When Canberra Capitals star Abby Bishop took guardianship of her niece Zala in 2013, she couldn’t have guessed the logistical nightmare that would follow. Zala was just two days old and Abby said raising her would be her top priority.
However the Opals’ policy required Abby to pay for flights, accommodation and childcare for Zala while she was playing for her country. Abby, 27, was forced to quit the team before last year’s world championship to focus on her family – but has now rejoined the Opals lineup after a landmark decision from Basketball Australia to amend its parental policy.
“I know that a lot of other female sports had great parental policies in place. So when the Basketball Australia policy came out, there were a lot of other sports who were outraged,” Abby tells The Weekly Review.
The furore over that exit, and the subsequent criticism, forced Basketball Australia to reconsider its policy. With Abby’s agent working hard to redress the issue, the organisation has agreed to help with some costs, although details have not yet been decided.
Abby, who is the WNBL’s reigning Most Valuable Player, will be back in the green and gold to take part in an Olympics test event in Brazil next month.
“I am really grateful that Basketball Australia have gone back through and realised there was room for improvement with the parental policy,” she says. “I’m extremely happy that I am able to be back in the national squad, and really excited to be heading to Rio with the group in Jan.”
From being unsure if she would ever play for the Opals again, Abby says she is now able to give her career and her family the commitment each deserves. She says the change of policy will undoubtedly help many female basketball players trying to balance motherhood with their sporting careers.
“I think it just shows that you should always stand up for what you believe in first of all, and second I think with the policy being changed other mums who want to continue to play at the top level, will be able to without the stress of a million other things,” Abby says.