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Olympique Lyonnais

‘I want to inspire women’ – Lyon's Gunnarsdottir opens up on balancing football with motherhood

16:41 GMT+4 13/03/2022
Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir Lyon 2020
The Iceland international midfielder gave birth to a baby boy in November 2021 and is revelling in her responsibilities on and off the field

Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir is a Champions League winner and two-time Icelandic Sportsperson of the Year, with 136 caps earned for her country and over 80 goals recorded from midfield in her day job, but she has an even more important role to play off the field.

That is because on November 16, 2021, the Olympique Lyonnais star gave birth to her first child – a baby boy named Ragnar.

She is now looking to prove that a career as an elite footballer can be balanced with the responsibilities of motherhood, with the pressures involved in both being embraced by the inspirational 31-year-old.

What has been said?

Gunnarsdottir has told L’Equipe of how she manages her daily life: “As a footballer, you are very selfish, focused on yourself: your recovery, your sleep, your training. From now on, before going to bed, I organise Ragnar's affairs, I check that he has eaten, that he sleeps well.

“It requires getting organised and I'm not the type to have a diary in which I write everything down, but I put myself in this ‘mummy mood’.

“I enjoy being a footballer, training, playing and then coming home and being with my baby. When I train, Ragnar is with a nanny. She's great. When I'm done training, I take him home.

“It is sometimes hard. Last night I slept only three hours when he usually sleeps well. When it's hard, I really have to remember to drink well, eat well and sleep when he sleeps. I adapt and focus on the things I can control, including my recovery.”

Any other challenges?

While juggling the demands of a sports career and being a mum, Gunnarsdottir also has to contend with the fact that her husband – Arni Vilhjalmsson, a Ligue 2 player with Rodez – is absent from her side on a regular basis due to his own professional commitments.

She added on the demands of a hectic schedule and proving to others that they can have the best of both worlds: “He is three-and-a-half hours away, and only comes home once a week.

“If I had told him it was too complicated and that I couldn't do it alone, he would have stopped. I want him to live his dream and I do the same.

“Ragnar will adapt to our way of life. If we can get there, we will continue. If it is not possible, we will have tried.

“I am happy to talk about it because I want to inspire women, so that they are not scared by saying that by making a career, it is not possible to start a family.”

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