HomeLifestyleFashionToni Duggan becomes first in Women’s Super League to take maternity leave

Toni Duggan becomes first in Women’s Super League to take maternity leave

Toni Duggan will become the first England player in the Women’s Super League to take maternity leave.

It comes after it was agreed that the Women’s Super League and Championship would pay full wages for the first 14 weeks of maternity leave, followed by statutory pay.

The 31-year-old winger announced her first pregnancy in September. She is now more than four months pregnant.

Pregnancies among footballers in England are not common, with only a handful of players taking the same route to start their families.

Former England player Katie Chapman, who called for improvements to childcare support, has had three children, while Chelsea midfielder Melanie Leupolz announced her pregnancy in March.

Demi Stokes, an England defender, also became a mother via surrogate this year, and Scotland and Reading defender Emma Mukandi returned to the squad in August after giving birth last November.

Speaking to the BBC, Duggan said she had to tell her coach about her pregnancy before her mother.

“It’s not so common in our environment for this to happen so that was quite tough initially,” she said. “I was probably more shocked and it was more difficult to deal with. I had to tell the coach before I told my mum. That was different and new.”

She said it was “something I wouldn’t have wanted to do”, but had to as a professional footballer.

Prior to this year, clubs could give maternity leave but it was not compulsory. But the clubs came to an agreement with the Football Association to pay full wages for the first 14 weeks of maternity leave and then statutory pay from the start of the 2022/23 season.

Duggan called for more research into how female footballers in other countries are supported when they become mothers.

“Just because it’s not common doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be guidelines and protocols in place,” she said. “I want to know how other countries and players go about it.

“The ones that I do know of are such powerful, strong women and they have come back from it and are doing so well in football. That obviously gives me inspiration that I can do it.”

The FA’s director of the Women’s Professional Game, Kelly Simmons, said when the agreement was made: “I am delighted we have been able to put this agreement in place and it is another significant step forward for the women’s game.

“Player welfare and wellbeing has always been our number one priority and this new policy ensures players are better supported, whether that’s going on maternity leave or as a result of a long-term injury.”

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