Melanie, Morgan, and Mothers Flourishing

by Emmanuel Faith (7/3/23)

Above: Alex Morgan fires her 120th goal for the USWNT against Brazil. Photo: Newsweek.

When Alex Morgan was called to the stage in Paris as one of the members of the FIFA PRO women’s team of the year one week ago, the room roared in joyous glee.

Morgan has dominated the game for a decade and more; seeing her still rank amongst the best of the best, is a joy to every football fan.

Two weeks ago, the star scored her 121st goal for her country, in doing so, she became the highest scoring mother in the history of USWNT. She didn’t just get here by chance; she went through 11 month absence from football due to pregnancy while experiencing a forgettable four month spell at Tottenham Hotspur, a series of criticisms, call-outs from impatient fans as well as intense series of continuous rehab. The result?

Being part of the top three footballers in the world as ranked by FIFA and making the podium for the fifth time in the last decade.

Above: Melanie Leupolz with her baby. Photo: The Pride of London.

Last Sunday, Melanie Leupolz played her first 45 minutes in Chelsea’s painful defeat to the London arch-rivals Arsenal. The German international was one of the few players who gave a ray of hope with her sterling display. It was her fourth substitute appearance since she came back from her maternity leave and has shown continuous improvement.

In the interview  she granted after extending her contract; Leupolz talked about the immense support she received from her club, the encouragement, and even specific health support that ensured she was fit to play football again after her delivery.

This kind of support does not just hasten the healing process of mothers; it also restores their confidence, reinforces their psychological certainty and makes them eager to get back to the field again.

Above: Crystal Dunn training with Portland Thorns in her third trimester. Photo: Oregonlive.

Another interesting scenario is the case of the USWNT star, Crystal Dunn who trained till the third trimester of her pregnancy, and came back to the team faster than most players (taking to the field just 156 days after her delivery) To have a player train till her seventh month of pregnancy shows a lot of trust and National coach Vlatko Andonovski included her in a roster just six months after her delivery.

Dunn says in an interview with the oregon that:
“I just have felt supported and wanted to return that support to my teammates for allowing me to be a part of the journey, even if I was out for a bit recovering from delivery.”

Women giving birth is normal, and women in sports shouldn’t be exempted. Dunn also emphasizes the need to have standard maternity leave across all leagues and create more awareness about it (WSL and NWSL have maternity leave policies in place already).

With proper structures and systems, we hope we see more Morgans, Melanies, and Dunns bouncing back after pregnancies and showing the world that giving birth isn’t the end, it is just a pause.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: