Rainbow Laces: Fern and Aileen Whelan talk parenthood, playing and more on ‘Inside The WSL’ | Football News

Brighton are flying high in the WSL – and Albion striker Aileen Whelan certainly feels on top of the world right now.

Hope Powell’s team hosts Manchester United Women in a mid-table brawl at lunchtime Sunday and before that big game, Whelan and teammate Fern – who was Aileen’s teammate before retiring from the game the year. last – joined Caroline Barker on Sky Sports’ “Inside the WSL” show.

The position? 450 feet in the air, in a British Airways i360 pod, offering stunning views of the south coast.

There was another very important passenger on board for the voyage to the skies: the Whelan Jensons’ baby boy, who is nearly eight months old.

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The proud parents were chatting to celebrate Rainbow Laces, with the campaign’s annual activation ending this weekend with a strong show of support for women’s football.

Fern now works in inclusion as the PFA’s first women’s football EDI executive.

“We always knew that sooner or later we wanted to have children,” she explains, reflecting on the decision the Whelans made last year to start their family.

“I knew I was going to retire, and it was also the time of Covid.

“We had been planning this for a while and were well under way in our relationship, so we thought, why not do it now?

“We were really lucky to get pregnant so early with him, really.”

Arsenal v Brighton and Hove Albion - Vitality Women's FA Cup - Semi Final - Meadow Park Former England and Brighton and Hove Albion player Fern Whelan shows up for BBC sport before the Vitality Women's FA Cup Semi Final at Prato Park, London.  Image date: Sunday, October 31, 2021.
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Fern Whelan won three appearances for England under Hope Powell before playing for the manager again in Brighton

The 33-year-old believes that the path they are following will be the one that will be taken by more and more professional colleagues in the coming years.

Conversations about parenting are becoming more frequent in the WSL locker room.

“As the game progresses, people can see it, you can actually take some time and the club will be supportive,” adds Fern.

Going back to playing after having a baby is a topic that is also raising with clubs.

“One of the first things that happen right now is to terminate the contracts for the players and make sure there are maternity rights. It’s really important,” she says.

Aileen, 30, acknowledges this is uncharted territory for some clubs whose women’s teams have only become fully professional in recent years.

CRAWLEY, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Brighton & Hove Albion's Aileen Whelan prior to the Vitality Women's FA Cup Quarter Final match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Charlton Athletic at Peoples Pension Stadium on September 29, 2021 in Crawley, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens - The FA / The FA via Getty Images)
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Aileen Whelan has made over 70 appearances for Brighton since joining the club in September 2017

“It’s so new, isn’t it? It’s hard for clubs to adapt because it’s never happened before.

“I have to say Brighton really supported us, like when Jenson had dates and stuff like that.”

As one of many LGBTQ + couples in the women’s game, the Whelans are proud to share their story to help raise awareness of Rainbow Laces issues.

“I think it’s just the understanding behind it [relationships]”says Felce.” Unfortunately, the abuse is starting to creep in again.

“The message we want to launch is that football is for everyone and must be as inclusive as possible

“This is for the people off the pitch, the fans entering the stadium – it’s about creating that friendly environment.”

Rainbow Laces 2021 logo graphics

Sky Sports is a member of TeamPride supporting Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which currently receives its annual activation from November 25th to December 12th.

Your story of being LGBTQ + or an ally could help make sport everyone’s game – contact us here to discuss further.

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