Sport

Abby Bishop proud of stance for niece Zala as Basketball Australia relaxes policy

Canberra Capitals star Abby Bishop says she's proud of the stance she took for female athletes with children, but admits fearing her international career was over when she quit Australia's world championship campaign last year.

Bishop will make her Australian Opals comeback at a Rio Olympic Games test event in Brazil in January, ending almost two years in international limbo.

The 27-year-old declared her niece Zala will always be her number one priority and praised Basketball Australia for being flexible to pay for some of the childcare costs while she is on Opals duties.

Bishop took Zala into her care when she was just two days old and was granted full custody earlier this year.

The reigning WNBL most valuable player put family before her career when Basketball Australia ruled Bishop would need to pay for flights, accommodation and childcare for Zala during the world championships in Turkey last year.

It prompted a review of BA's parental policy and it's understood Bishop's agent has been working with officials to come to an agreement on how to best help Bishop.

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It is likely BA will pay for either childcare or the cost to fly a nanny to Canberra while Bishop is in Brazil.

Bishop hopes her stance will benefit female athletes in the future who juggle sporting careers and parental duties as she sets her sights on a second Olympic campaign with the Opals.

"I'm excited to be back in the program and feel privileged to be suiting up after more than a year," Bishop said.

"Zala won't come with me to Brazil ... I do feel proud, and proud because that's the person I am. I do stand up for myself, I would have been disappointed in myself if I didn't.

"I took in Zala and it's my responsibility to look after her. She will always come first. I'm just happy and respectful of Basketball Australia for re-evaluating and helping. I never wanted too much or everything paid for, just a bit of help.

"I might have helped someone else to stand up or get their sport to help with their child."

Opals coach Brendan Joyce was excited to work with Bishop as he searches for the right mix to chase an elusive Olympic gold medal.

Capitals teammate Stephanie Talbot has been included while Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor, Marianna Tolo and Elizabeth Cambage will all come into Olympic selection contention next year.

"You want all players who have had experience to be available ... Abby helps create tremendous competition in the group," Joyce said.

"We need to give some girls an opportunity and they've got a chance to step up. There's a lot of competition and it's healthy competition. Abby is coming back from an injury and she'll get her shot."

Bishop has been juggling her basketball career and motherhood for the past two years after taking Zala into her care and volunteering to take custody.

The Capitals have offered help with childcare and Zala often travels with the team.

But Bishop withdrew from the world championships last year when BA deemed Bishop must pay to have Zala with her on tours.

Her story attracted worldwide attention and the stance split opinion, with BA declaring the decision was made to "keep the sanctity of high performance".

It cast uncertainty over Bishop's Opals career, but said she never gave up hope of returning to the international stage and praised officials for being flexible.

"I knew there was a huge chance I wouldn't play for Australia again ... I definitely stand up for what I believe in. Every circumstance is different and mine was rare," Bishop said.

"I'm really grateful to be back in it, I missed it. I missed playing at the top level with the green and gold on.

"Some people agreed and some people disagreed. I was a bit anxious and stressed, but I know I did the right thing by Zala."

The Opals will play against Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela in test event from January 15-17.

Joyce rates Talbot as a future star and still hopes Jackson will be fit for the team's bid for Olympic glory.

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