Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes says the lack of childcare support received by women in professional football is an “absolute disgrace”
The manager of Chelsea Ladies has said the lack of childcare support received by women in professional football is an “absolute disgrace” after it was revealed that she is pregnant with twins.
Emma Hayes, who has managed Chelsea since 2012, said English football trails far behind the USA when it comes to support provided for players and coaches who have chosen to have children.
It comes as figures from Fifpro, the global players’ union, showed that only one per cent of players in the English Women’s Super League are mothers.
The report also found that only three per cent of top division clubs worldwide provide creche facilities for their players.
“People need to understand that we are born to have children,” Hayes told The Offside Rule Exclusives Podcast. “Just because they are an athlete does not mean they shouldn’t be supported.
“The funny thing about footballers is that they come back better players [after having children] because they produce more oxygen in their blood and they can run for further. I have found it’s improved them.
Among the players Hayes manages at Chelsea is Katie Chapman, the club captain, who has previously claimed that she was dropped from the England side in 2010 after asking for time off to look after her family.
“When I think about how little support the England national team players have, including Katie, I think it’s absolutely disgraceful,” Hayes said. “I am not entirely sure that has been addressed and it does need to be looked at.”
Hayes, 41, is expecting twins in June, calling it her “biggest life challenge”.
She first suspected she might be pregnant during a fraught Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich in October.
“A little voice in my head said ‘you need to calm down a little bit’,” Hayes said. “And I instinctively put my hand on my stomach. I looked down and I thought, that’s a really weird moment. I didn’t know at the time I was pregnant, but I instantly withdrew and that was a moment that will live with me for a long time. That was the moment I thought, ‘I am no longer just doing this for myself’.”
She added that she believed motherhood would improve her coaching abilities, even if bouts of morning sickness have been unwelcome. “You hear a lot of women talk about how difficult the first trimester is and I understood that more than you will ever know,” Hayes said. “It takes the life out of you in that first 12 weeks. I’ve been sick a lot, and really sleepy.”
In the long-term, though, she expects the twins to provide a boost to the natural maternal instincts she shows in her coaching.
“It has been a challenge and I did not think it was going to happen, so I think that I’m in a miracle to be in the position I am in,” she said. “I know I will feel more fulfilled and complete and I also think it will make me a better coach. I always say I get older every year and the players stay the same and that gap grows and I become more of a mother to them.”
Hayes led the club to a Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Cup double in 2015, and this summer guided them to the Women’s Super League One Spring Series title. In recent months, she has had to deal with fallout over the scandal involving Eni Aluko, who plays for Chelsea, which eventually resulted in the sacking of England manager Mark Sampson.
“We dealt with one of the trickiest situations of my time and for the game and we came out of the other side with everyone more appreciative that everybody suffers one way or the other,” Hayes said. “We just need to be more intuitive and more empathetic.”