Big Issues

Of Course Being A Mother Is Relevant To Competing In The FIFA World Cup

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Last night’s match between Australia and Ireland in the group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup was glorious. Not just because the Tillies secured the bag with a second half penalty from Steph Catley, earning us a 1-0 win. Or because of the incredible record crowd turnout of 75,000 at Sydney’s Stadium Arena — proving that women’s sport deserves just as much hype and attention as men’s sport.

No, the real glory was the important observation made by a male commentator about midfielder Katrina Gorry and how “motherhood has not blunted her competitive instincts, that’s for sure”. Yes, we’re still doing this.

Yes, motherhood — famously known for being a calming experience full of joy and wonder. As we all know, mothers are universally nurturing and kind, with any hint of ambition or competitiveness evaporating from their body as soon as they give birth. Thank you, sir, for reminding women everywhere that even when women are at the top of their game competing in an international sports championship, motherhood is the real victory.

The more I think about it, though, the more I get why motherhood was brought into the conversation at all. Being a mum is often undervalued and underpaid, much like the experiences of professional female athletes. Mums are always running around, juggling a million things at once. Female athletes can probably relate, with the gender pay gap in professional sports making it far more likely for women to juggle a part or full-time job alongside their sporting career.

Honestly, it’s my fault for not knowing which Matildas are mums or not because that’s what’s important here, not the world-class football gracing our screens. Knowing whether women have children or not is also important context when you’re judging what they’re wearing too, as Keke Palmer’s boyfriend — sorry, ex-boyfriend — pointed out.

Keke Palmer Mum Tweet

@dvulton via People

Surely similar comments were made when Messi or Ronaldo became fathers, right? FIFA should probably go ahead and put the parenthood stats right there in the player bios, so I have all the facts.

Sarcasm aside, here’s hoping all the women competing at the FIFA World Cup get the chance to show off the competitive instincts and sheer athleticism that got them to this level of professional football, despite the countless additional barriers that women face to get there. We’re all watching and cheering you on. And you’ve inspired me to go for a run.

This opinion piece is written by Junkee culture writer and producer Lia Kim. She tweets at @kimliaa_.