Katy Chapman

Chelsea Ladies star talks training, children and Chelsea.

Author: Rachel
March 20th 10:17am

Katie Chapman is a remarkable woman, not only has she recently signed for FAWSL outfit Chelsea Ladies, she is also a mother of three.  Midfielder Chapman has earned 82 caps for England and is currently the only elite female footballer in the UK with children.

The former England under-18 captain and twice holder of the FA International Player of the Year award, played competitively until she was seven months pregnant. Katie’s three children are now aged 10, 5 and 9 months and are her biggest supporters.

Not only is Katie a footballer and a mother, she is also a trainee beautician, which is a career she is hoping to pursue once her playing days are over.

 Katie agreed to talk to me about her return2fitness after child birth and her hopes of rejoining the England national setup.

Katie, you were -and still are- the first footballer to have children.  How did you feel about the prospect of juggling motherhood and football when you first found out that you were pregnant?

To be honest I didn't really think about the logistics of juggling football and motherhood, I was just overwhelmingly excited to be pregnant.  My main aim was to continue training for as long as it was possible and safe to do so, which is what I did.

What was the reaction of your team mates, coaches, managers and fans to your pregnancy news? At the time of my first pregnancy, I played for Fulham Ladies who were an extremely professional club with great values. They were all really happy for me and I was extremely well looked after throughout my pregnancy. Our manager at the time told the team in the changing room at half time when I was 11weeks gone. We were winning and he announced to the changing room that ‘it’s not fair for them; we are playing with 12 players on the pitch.’ It took the girls a while to work out what he meant, but when they did they were so pleased and supportive. That was my last game of that season.

Being pregnant, what precautions did you have to take in training? When I was at Fulham they designed me a unique training programme, which was great. I ran for as long as I was comfortable and I joined in with games and training for as long as I could. As my pregnancy moved on, training became none contact and featured more passing drills and a lighter training regime. After about 6 months, I was then instructed to move on to gym bikes and swimming, I was monitored all the time to check that me and baby were doing well.

Did you have any concerns with your first baby about returning to full fitness and continuing to play at the highest level of English football?  I had no concern in this area. I knew my pregnancy was well managed. I had continued to train up until 2 weeks before my due date; I was only 20 years old with my first child, so I knew that the chances of making a successful comeback were quite high. 

After giving birth to each of your children, how long did it take you to get back training and playing? It has taken me around 6 weeks to start back training after every birth. Each time I have waited until after the 6 week medical check. I've been very lucky that all has gone well when giving birth, which has allowed me to come back extremely quickly. I would say however, that it has taken me longer to get back to full fitness after my third child because I’m that much older now.

It’s remarkable that you came back after 6 weeks; did you have a special training regime to follow? There was no special training programme that I followed. I targeted and worked a lot on my pelvic floors and stomach muscles, but as far as training goes, I just joined back into training with the girls and pushed myself as hard as I could back to fitness.

What is the most difficult part about returning to fitness after child birth? I would have to say my age. I have noticed a considerable difference after giving birth to my third child. However, I do believe that my fitness has been at its best after coming back after giving birth.

How tough is it mentally to return to playing after child birth? I didn't find it tough mentally because, having the break from football whilst pregnant gave me the hunger to get myself back to fitness and playing again. All in all, I have spent about two and half to three years out of football but I have three beautiful boys to show for it. It’s sometimes hard juggling the two but I have a very supportive Husband and a great family who allow me to continue to play. I believe children are what life is about; they bring me so much happiness and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

As mentioned previously, you are the only professional female footballer to have children, do you think the FA could help improve conditions for women thinking of or having children?

I think in general it’s hard for women in any job to be a working mum, I think we need to know we are supported in our roll and that there is some understanding of the difficulties we come across as parents.

Do you think that the lack of understanding and support may deter other FAWSL players from having children?  I can't really answer this question it’s just personal choice I guess. I do think that more should be done to help women across the board when it comes to work and families though.

It seems that the FA and former England manager Hope Powell, did very little to help accommodate and support your needs. Your central contract was ultimately terminated after you requested time off for your children. Mark Sampson has now come in as the new England manager and looks to have offered a fresh approach. Do you believe that you could now return to the England set up? I have spoken to Mark about returning to the International set up, I would love to make 100 caps but we’ll wait and see what happens.  If I’m playing well for Chelsea then that’s a start.

You’ve played in America, are there more soccer playing mums in the States? If so, do they have better resources in place to help players and clubs deal with it? Yes, there are many soccer mums in America. In my team in Chicago we had a mum of 3; she also played for the national side. The USA team can take their children to training camps and can train happily knowing that a nanny is taking care of them whilst they are playing and training. They have a different approach.

Finally you made the move across London to sign for Chelsea Ladies, how pleased are you with your new club? I am delighted to be here and it is an exciting new chapter in my career. Chelsea is a massive club with a big-club mentality so it is a new challenge for me, which is exciting.

Return2Fitness would like to thank Katie Chapman and Chelsea Ladies. Good luck for the season ahead and in the future. 

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