Sat, Nov 09, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Pregnant Morgan eyes Olympic Games return three months after giving birth

Reuters, GARDENA, California

US women’s national team soccer player Alex Morgan greets a high-school girls’ soccer team as she unveils a mini-pitch, part of the US Soccer Foundation’s Safe Places to Play program, in Gardena, California, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Alex Morgan, cocaptain of the US women’s national team, said that she plans to play at next year’s Tokyo Olympics even though the Games are to take place just three months after she is due to give birth to her first child in April.

“It’s my goal to play there,” Morgan said. “It’s clearly a short window, but if I’m able to, I want to be there representing my country.”

Morgan and her husband, Servando Carrasco, last month announced that they are expecting a daughter.

It has certainly been a busy year for the Southern Californian striker.

In March, she joined her teammates in suing their employer, US Soccer, saying that the women’s team was underpaid compared with their less successful male counterparts.

The 30-year-old, who scored six goals during her team’s charge toward a fourth World Cup title, said that she hopes the lawsuit can be settled out of court, even though a trial date has been set.

“It’s moving quickly,” she said. “We’re having updates every week and we have the trial set for May, so we are absolutely hoping to have it resolved before the Olympics — but the sooner, the better.”

The legal battle did not interfere with the team’s focus, she said.

“The lawsuit isn’t necessarily a distraction, but it’s something that needs to happen for us to value ourselves properly,” she said. “Our employer is not doing the same.”

The women’s team has also won four Olympic golds.

Morgan, who is also a forward for the Orlando Pride, spoke with reporters following the unveiling of a US$100,000 mini-soccer pitch in Gardena, a low-income area in Los Angeles County.

The 26m by 12m acrylic pitch, which was paid for by sports drink company Powerade and carries Morgan’s signature on it, would help to hone the skills of the next generation, she said.

The US Soccer Foundation has so far installed 250 mini-pitches in urban areas across the US. The goal is to install 1,000 pitches by 2026.

“I even struggle to get access to a field sometimes, which is crazy to say. So to be able to open a pitch in my community in the Los Angeles area was great,” she said. “To give safe access to the sport and more access is incredible. I want soccer to be the biggest sport in the US — and the way that the youth soccer trend is going right now, it cuts out the lower half of the income classes, so to be able to provide this pitch in more of an undeserved area is so amazing.”

Morgan said she can even envision her own daughter taking advantage of the opportunity one day.

“Being a mom-to-be, it’s incredible to know that children like mine will have access to this,” she said.

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