Netherlands setter Kim Staelens in action in the World Championship, 40 days after the birth of her daughter
Hamamatsu, Japan, November 1, 2010 – Anyone wondering how to juggle the twin demands of international-class Volleyball and motherhood should listen to the story of Kim Staelens.
The Netherlands player is here in Japan with her baby daughter Lynn who was born only six weeks ago. On match days she leaves Lynn with her own mother, who flew to the Far East especially to help take care of her new granddaughter.
Lynn is the first child for the 28-year-old Staelens and her husband, Mark Sterken, who is also a Volleyball player at Tilburg Club in the Netherlands. When she was born in September, nobody imagined that Staelens would be able to join the Netherlands team at the FIVB Women's World Championship – nobody, that is, except the player herself.
Staelens was adamant she would not miss out such a major tournament – and was training both in the run-up to the birth and again just ten days afterwards. "I did the impossible and I succeeded in convincing my coach I should be here in Japan with the team," said Staelens, the squad's setter. "I started a condensed training programme to retain my physical fitness and it happened, and I came here with my baby."
She explained: "I was practising Volleyball till only a week before going into labour and I used the instructions of my obstetrician and my team physio to take care of my baby. In the last few days I was only setting to my colleagues without putting in too much effort.
"The doctor allowed me to do some jogging only 10 days after the birth and I had the strength to do more. I joined my teammates in the training session and saw how happy my coach Avital Selinger was to see me returning so soon and that also gave me a push.
"I'm the happiest person all over the world because I have my little daughter and I’m also involved in my other life, Volleyball," added Staelens.
Her coach, Selinger, said: "You can't imagine how insistent Kim was about joining the team and really she is a key player in my side. When she was fit I didn't hesitate to add her to the list for the World Championship."
Staelens and her sister Chaine, 30 next week, both have important roles to play in their national team yet they were actually born in Belgium to a Belgian father and Dutch mother. Indeed they represented the land of their birth at youth level before Kim, at 16, took Dutch nationality.
The rest, as they say, is history and Staelens, who had 291 caps before the tournament opened, will celebrate reaching the 300-cap mark with the national team in Japan should they qualify for the finals.