Balancing motherhood and football

In a women’s world, we strive to maintain our home and work life which can sometimes put strain on our choices to pursue a career in sport. We caught up with JVW FC Centre back Nicole Irwin, who recently made a comeback to the Sasol League after becoming a mom.

Q1. How do you balance motherhood and football?
N.I: It’s extremely difficult to find a balance between my passion for football and my duties as a mother. I am lucky that I have an extremely supportive family and my son’s father supports my football and this above all allows me to better balance the two.

Q2. Did you ever think that you would continue to play at a high level after having a child?
N.I: Absolutely! One of my post-baby goals was to make a comeback by getting fit to play at least one more season. I want my son to know that his mom worked hard and followed her passion regardless of the circumstances .

Q3. Has raising your son compromised your football in any way?
N.I: Yes it has to some degree but none that I regret. I don’t get to train like the other players do. Santiago attends training with me so it’s hard to have 100% focus, but I do my best. Sometime when he gets sick I have to put my football second, which puts strain on my team as I do not believe I am as fit as I should be, but my son will always come first.

Q4. What is the most challenging thing about being a mom and playing in the Sasol League?
N.I: I think the most challenging thing is being a single mother. I haven’t spent a full weekend with Santiago since Pre-season started and that is probably the hardest thing in my personal capacity. However my training schedule and ‘commitment’ to every training is also affected when things arise that are out of my control, but i try to balance it as much as I can with the help and support from my family.

Q5: Do you think it would be easier if we had a Professional League in South Africa?
N.I: It would obviously impact my decision to continue playing football if there were a Professional league, as we wouldn’t have to juggle work and football and still ‘home-life’. It has been a dream of almost every player in this country to play in a Professional League and I would definitely want to be part of that.

Q6: Do you feel that your football career may be cut short if there is no Professional League?
N.I: Football Career? (Chuckles) I would like to try and play one more season, especially now that Santi is getting older but my schedule is really tough and I never want to regret putting my child second so I will obviously make that decision at the end of each season.