Abby Bishop to get child support to re-sign with the Canberra Capitals

Abby Bishop with neice Zala. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Abby Bishop with neice Zala. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

She quit the national team because of a lack of child support, but Abby Bishop has struck a deal with the semi-professional Canberra Capitals to assist her and baby Zala, the nine-month-old in her care.

Just two months after Basketball Australia introduced a controversial parental policy which forced Bishop to quit the world championships, the 25-year-old will sign a WNBL deal with the Capitals on Wednesday which includes childcare support.

As revealed by The Canberra Times in January, Bishop volunteered to take custody of niece Zala when she was just two days old, for personal reasons.

But Bishop quit the Australian Opals in April when BA 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.

It prompted the Capitals to team up with the University of Canberra to offer Bishop paid childcare hours every week to help her juggle basketball and motherhood.

Bishop admitted the BA saga was draining, but said she had moved on and wanted to play for the Opals in the future.

"That's one of the key factors in staying in Canberra; obviously Zala is very important in making that decision," Bishop told The Canberra Times.

"To have the childcare stuff in there for me is a big deal. I've moved on from the Opals situation; I'm disappointed because I'd love to be there but it didn't work out.

"That's the way it is. But now this is done, my mind is focused on the Caps and hopefully I can be a part of the Opals again."

BA high performance manager Chuck Harmison said in April the policy was introduced to "protect the sanctity of a high performance environment".

The Capitals run a semi-professional program, but Bishop and Zala travelled with the team to every training session and interstate game last season.

Capitals coach Carrie Graf said the team would benefit, rather than be distracted, from having Zala and Bishop at the club.

"It was a unique situation last year, no one anticipated it. Abby wasn't ready for it and neither were we," Graf said.

"We've always had kids around the [Capitals] program at some level. We engage their kids actively in our program.

"Abby was a special situation, a brand-new single parent who didn't have time to prepare. We've got an active support system for her now, but just because we've got that we're not going to exclude Zala from our team environment.

"There are positives to be had from it. When a baby is on floor post-game like our fans are ... she's a part of Abby's family and Abby is a part of our team."

Bishop was told by BA she would have to pay for Zala and a carer while she was with the Opals while touring and at the world championships in Turkey.

It is understood BA's initial policy included banning children and carers from team activities and the team environment unless approved by management.

Athletes or coaches would be responsible for all the costs involved. The new parental policy applies to all of BA's high performance teams.

To allow Bishop to increase her training, Graf worked tirelessly to help organise childcare for Zala as a clause in the WNBL contract.

Bishop will play the next two seasons with the Capitals after committing to the 2015-16 campaign.

She will team up with superstar Lauren Jackson and aim to resurrect the Capitals as a WNBL title contender.

The Capitals have also offered WNBL veteran Kristen Veal and rising star Carley Mijovic new contracts and hope the duo will commit this week.

Captain Jess Bibby and Carly Wilson are also expected to stay with the team as the Capitals chase an eighth WNBL title.

This story Abby Bishop to get child support to re-sign with the Canberra Capitals first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.