Matildas stars say team’s hearty training camp changes are secret weapon that will give them an edge when World Cup starts: ‘Everybody’s aunty now’
Katrina Gorey, Tameka Yallop Acclaimed camp set-up stars in action for Friday night friendly vs France in Matildas World Cup opener next Thursday night
The Matildas dressing room has seen a lot of personnel changes over the past four years.
But it’s the smallest of inclusions who are making a special impact ahead of the Women’s World Cup.
Guns midfielder Katrina Gorrie gave birth to daughter Harper in 2021, and utility Tameka Yallop’s wife Kirsty, a former New Zealand international, gave birth to their daughter Harley in 2020.
Harper, Harley, Kirsty and Gorrie’s mother, Linda, have all been involved in recent Matildas camps.
‘It’s quite different and nobody really knew we had both kids at the first camp – and that was really welcome,’ said Yallop.
Matildas star Katrina Gorrie (pictured centre, back with daughter Harper and fiancee Clara Markstead) says it’s ‘pretty special’ her daughter can grow up with her team-mates
Tameka Yallop (pictured right, with wife Kirsty and their daughter Harley) believes that being around kids during camp helps players get a much-needed mental break from football.
‘Allowing family at meals and while we’re used to keeping strict team protocol, family and a carer are allowed to be around.
‘These are adjustments that take some time, especially maybe the support staff or someone who always thinks about football and tries to relax and invites family members.
“That’s the biggest change. Then there’s obviously a lot of logistics that go into traveling with young children – car seats and strollers and catering for them as well.’
On the surface, the rigidity of a high-performance environment and the flexibility required with young children seem at odds.
Instead, they coexisted beautifully.
‘Just having little kids, whether they’re laughing or throwing tantrums, you forget about football for a minute and it’s relaxing,’ Yallop said.
Gorey (pictured with a young fan as the Matildas received their World Cup jerseys on Tuesday) says ‘the room lights up a bit’ when the stars’ children walk through the door.
Matildas vice-captain Steph Catley says having kids at the training camp has brought ‘a lot of peace’ to the team ahead of the World Cup (pictured, Tameka Yallop with a young Aussie fan)
‘At the same time it brings everyone together. Everyone is an aunty now and you feel it too.
‘It definitely changed the whole atmosphere and maybe lent us a bit of a high performance because we could switch off and feel something different emotionally as well as just 100 per cent football.’
Yallop jokes that Harley refers to the Matildas as his ‘teammates’ while Teagan Micah and Charlie Grant consider Gorrie and Harper like their family in Sweden.
Vice-captain Steph Catley said the children had brought ‘a lot of peace’ to the Matildas camp.
‘When they [Harley and Harper] Walk in the door, the room will light up a bit,’ said Gorey.
‘Forget the thoughts you have when you get caught up in training or something that happened in a win, a loss or a draw.
‘They always have a smile on their face.
‘It certainly changed camp life for many of us. People want to hang out with their kids at home and think about the game.
‘It’s so special knowing that he’s growing up with so many of these girls and looking up to them.’