US football star Jessica McDonald on motherhood

Jessica McDonald is determined to give her son the best start in life – all while scoring goals as a World Cup champion.

by UNICEF

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Transcript of: US football star Jessica McDonald on motherhood

“My name is Jessica McDonald, professional soccer player for the North Carolina Courage and current striker for the USA Women’s National Soccer team and World Cup gold medalist.

I would describe myself as fierce. I play a professional sport so I kind of have to be and as a mom, I kind of have to prove myself a little bit more.

Just trying to juggle being a professional athlete, just going through sort of a surprise pregnancy, coming off an injury, becoming a mom and such a low salary, so those were definitely the start of the most challenging times of my career.

I was making about US$15,000 for the first few years and my son was a baby at the time. There was an off season where for almost 6 months, I was working 11.5 hour shifts, packing boxes – the pay absolutely terrible – and just kind of scraping pennies and just getting by was a very difficult thing for me. Trying to find childcare, because it’s very expensive.

There were times that I just had to bring him to training sessions. If he cried, I'd go over and bring him a bottle, there were times trainers watched him for me. 

I thought about retirement a few times throughout my career just because of the pay – I had to just think about it – what if I did give up now? What if I did retire? Would I be satisfied with my career? Would my kid still be proud of me because one day I just want him to say that he was proud of me and that I'm some kind of inspiration for him just because parents are always the first people in a child's life that they look up to.  

I’m considered the soccer mom right now. Now I have a voice for all the moms out there, a voice for all the parents out there. 

What I want the government to do is to be able to provide equal pay between men and women. We need better support for all the parents out there. As a mom, I really want to motivate my kid and just continue to inspire him. As long as he is a good person, I am satisfied because I’ve created a good human being and that’s all I have ever wanted.”