Abby Bishop's joint basketball and childcare contract a 'statement for female athletes', says Carrie Graf

Abby Bishop and her niece, Zala. Photo: Jay Cronan
Abby Bishop and her niece, Zala. Photo: Jay Cronan

Canberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf has declared Abby Bishop's unique WNBL-childcare contract a step forward for female athletes, adding that Bishop's decision to take custody of niece Zala should not hinder her international career.

Bishop signed a new Capitals contract on Wednesday, with a special clause offering her a pre-determined amount of paid childcare for baby Zala, the nine-month-old in Bishop's care.

Bishop, 25, quit the Australian Opals world championship campaign two months ago after Basketball Australia introduced a parental policy that meant she would have to fund childcare, the costs of flights and accommodation for a nanny, and ask permission for Zala to be in the team environment.

The Capitals have teamed with the University of Canberra to offer Bishop and Zala childcare to ease the burden on the semi-professional basketballer.

''I think this is a wonderful statement for female athletes and what they can do, you can have kids and play basketball," Graf said.

"Abby didn't go through child birth, but she's a single parent. It's a unique job in a short career ... it's not a normal working environment. We found a way to make childcare a part of her contract.

"Abby is a great role model. It's a great statement about young women ... many of Australia's great players have had kids and come back.

"Former Opals captain Robyn Maher, a legend, played in the WNBL 11 days after the birth of her second child. I was coaching her in Sydney at the time. Abby's situation is unique, it wasn't planned or prepared for, but she's getting on with business.

"She's put Zala first and she's too good to not have 10 years of basketball left, in my mind Abby will be a triple Olympian."

Bishop, the Capitals' most valuable player from the 2013-14 WNBL season, is back in Canberra after a playing stint in Hungary.

She withdrew from the lead-up to the world championships in Turkey to put her focus on Zala after her situation prompted BA to introduce a new policy, which now applies to all national teams.

It's understood Bishop would have needed team management permission for Zala to be at training sessions or the team hotel.

Bishop admitted the saga was draining, but said she had moved on and wants to work towards an Opals return when Zala is older.

"I want to be a part of the Opals in the future but whether that can be worked out while Zala is still young isn't up to me," Bishop said.

"When she's older maybe I can leave her with friends and other people ... the 2016 Olympics [in Rio] is a goal of mine and I'd like to get there, Zala will be three by then.

"First of all I have to be able to make the squad again."

Bishop is a key piece in the Capitals' plans to rebuild the club into a title contender.

Four-time Olympian Lauren Jackson has had more off-season surgery, but is expected to be fit for the world championships and Canberra's season.

Jackson, Bishop and WNBA draftee Stephanie Talbot have signed for the next two seasons while Graf is chasing Kristen Veal, Carley Mijovic, Jess Bibby and Carly Wilson to aim for a title.

Veal teamed up with Jackson to win the Capitals' first title in 1999 and is expected to decide on her future next week.

This story Abby Bishop's joint basketball and childcare contract a 'statement for female athletes', says Carrie Graf first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.