Pregnant Matilda to miss Olympics campaign
Olympian, Matilda and now soon-to-be mother.
Aussie women's footballer Katrina Gorry is the latest elite sportswoman to put her athlete career on pause to make pregnancy her priority.
While Gorry has only just recently officially withdrawn from the Australian team and thus ruled herself out of the Tokyo Olympics, the celebration of Gorry's long-range strike for the Brisbane Roar last month revealed her teammates inside knowledge.
"I don't think I've done a good job of keeping it secret! I told the Roar girls because during the first six weeks I was pretty unwell ... but I knew they would support me and protect me," she said.
"When I scored that goal during the Canberra game, I think it kind of showed how much support and how special it was for all of us ... but I'll be back. We have the 2023 World Cup here and I would like to be in contention for that."
The 28-year-old, with her 14-week pregnant belly only just starting to show, had pencilled in 2021 as the year she wanted to fall pregnant - because it was the only downtime in the Matildas' playing schedule.
Gorry, and her teammates, would have enjoyed a long break in the middle of this year but the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics has left Australia's top players with a major tournament to play every year until 2024.
After the Games, there is the Asian Cup, then World Cup, then Olympics again - the Matildas are four years off a major break leaving little wriggle room for injuries, rest ... and families.
"As an athlete, you basically plan your life around a four-year cycle. I always thought that I wanted to be pregnant in 2021 based on our national team commitments ... I come from a big family and have always wanted kids," Gorry said.
"That was my plan and then COVID hit and the Olympics got postponed. I didn't want to change my plans so I started the IVF process at the end of last year and kind of left it in the hands of the universe to decide if I was going to be in competition for the Olympics or not.
"I was lucky enough to fall pregnant first go ... so the Olympics won't be for me but I'm absolutely thrilled to have a little bub instead. I have such great support from my family, I won't be short of help or cousins to play with my bub."
The midfielder is far from the first athlete to plan a return to action post pregnancy, the likes of global poster woman Serena Williams and closer to home Daisy Pearce in the AFLW have been trailblazers.
But for the acceptance, and even celebration, of the returning pregnant athlete is relatively new.
Football Australia has worked overtime to redraft its maternity policy from 2015 when national players went on strike over issues such as players, on a base salary of $21,000 per annum, having to pay all travel for a child.
Fast forward to 2019 and a new CBA agreement became a game changer for the Matildas with top tier players salary increased from around $66,000 to $100,000 and a paid maternity policy.
Football Australia CEO James Johnson said: "Katrina has been an integral part of the Westfield Matildas for almost a decade and, as a former AFC Women's Player of the Year, has excelled on the pitch."
"We are excited to see her embark on another phase of her life with Football Australia's full support.
"Football Australia has pledged to continue providing a supportive environment for national team players who want to take this exciting step in their lives.
"For Katrina, this means the provision of 12 months paid parental leave, as well as
continued full access to the national team support staff during and post pregnancy to aid
her return to play.
"We are confident that this backing will provide Katrina with the chance to put herself in the best position to strive towards the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 on home soil."
Gorry added: "I feel really supported by FA, the Matildas and by my team and coaching staff at Brisbane Roar W-League ... it really does drive me to come back and to be a better player.
"For so many years, you think that you have to stop your career short, so you can start a family.
"A lot of the US girls have kind of paved the way and made people realise that you can actually have a baby and come back. So think it's really exciting that people are starting to realise this and hopefully I get to come back and put the green and gold on again.
"And I hope I can be a role model to young players coming through ... I think it is an exciting time for women's sport and we are all realising we can actually have family and play professionally because now we have the support in place."
Sports streaming service Kayo will be showing selected W-League matches as part of its new free tier offering, Kayo Freebies.
Originally published as Pregnant Matilda to miss Olympics campaign