(Image courtesy of Racing Louisville FC twitter)
While the ninth-place expansion team are no longer in the NWSL playoff race, Racing Louisville FC are making an off-field impact on the league, announcing a partnership with Kentucky Fertility Institute to provide its players complimentary access to fertility preservation services.
According to a statement put out by the club on Wednesday, the services provided include egg freezing, embryo freezing and long-term storage.
“The partnership gives Racing’s players the flexibility to start a family with minimal interruption to careers on the pitch, either via surrogacy or personal use upon retirement,” read the statement.
While this is a first in the NWSL, which has yet to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with its players, the WNBA recently provided precedent for such a move. WNBA Players Association president and LA Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike successfully advocated for free fertility testing services for league players. The WNBA approved the services earlier this month.
“I think women really flipped this on its head, especially as it comes to stigmas and societal norms with expectations thrust around working women having to make this decision between family and career,” said Ogwumike on the increasing emphasis on reproductive health and family planning around women’s sports in a letter to WNBA players.
Racing director of player experience Brynn Sebring said she has seen women athletes forced to make an “excruciating choice” between continuing their sports careers or starting a family. She said that since fertility preservation treatments can be prohibitively expensive, NWSL athletes, who are paid a maximum of about $52,000 per year, had previously not considered such treatments a viable option.
“From a club standpoint, this will lengthen players’ careers, so it’s a good investment on that side.” Sebring said. “And also, it’s just the right thing to do because this is what players deserve.”