As she looks ahead to England’s Women’s World Cup quarter-final against the host nation Canada in Vancouver on Saturday evening, the Chelsea captain Katie Chapman is taking inspiration from a family surprise that led to the tears of joy that will inevitably flow once again should Mark Sampson’s team lift the trophy when the final is played on Sunday week.
Mother of three Chapman, who is back in the England squad after a four-year international exile which followed a childcare dispute with the previous head coach Hope Powell, had tortuously accepted that she would have to spend up to six weeks away from her children in order to play at the World Cup.
Paying for a trip to Canada for her husband Mark and sons Harvey, 11, Riley, six, and Zachary – whose second birthday fell during the tournament – was beyond the Chapman finances despite the Football Association having restored the £23,000 a year central contract she had lost when departing the squad.
“If I’m away from the children for any length of time I miss them terribly,” said Chapman. “It would have been lovely for them to come over here so I could see them, but I’d decided with Mark that we couldn’t do it money-wise.
“But then one day I went down from my hotel room and they were standing there. I had no clue whatsoever they were coming, so it was a massive surprise – I just stood there and cried. To come down and see them was overwhelming.
“It was the day of Zachary’s birthday and I was able to see them all that evening after the Mexico [group] game and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. That was really lovely that, really special. I needed that.
“Mark did it [sorted out the finances] off his own bat. It was a massive task for him, but he’s a really hands-on dad. We’re very busy parents but he felt that strongly about wanting to bring the boys over to see me. I didn’t want to miss Zachary’s second birthday and so that was a real bonus for me.”
Hubby and boys have since returned home but Chapman, 33, said: “I’ve been speaking to them quite a bit on FaceTime, which is a life saver.
“Moving to Vancouver, with the time difference [eight hours behind the UK], I’m finding that a bit tough. It’s quite weird. We got here on Tuesday night and then I had to try and catch them before they went to school – I was speaking to them as they were getting up and I was going to bed!”
Boosted by her unexpected family time during the tournament, Chapman played a key role in England’s 2-1 last-16 win against Norway and is now set to line up against Canada in a game in which victory would take England into unexplored territory, having never before reached the World Cup semi-finals.
A member of the team that went out in the quarter-finals of the 2007 World Cup in China, the midfielder is aiming to make history in what is her second finals appearance. “I was one of the younger players in ’07,” she said. “Now I’m one of the older ones trying to use my experience to help the youngsters.”
That experience could be crucial as England face Canada in the city that is the home base of the national team and its English head coach John Herdman.
“A 50,000-plus crowd is going to create a very hostile atmosphere and we’ll have to manage that,” said the combative midfielder. “But I quite like having the feeling of having the crowd against you, so hearing that will give me a lift.”Reuse content