Matildas stars say team’s heartwarming training camp change is secret weapon that will give them an edge when the World Cup kicks off: ‘Everyone’s an aunty now’
- Katrina Gorry, Tameka Yallop praise camp set-up
- Stars in action for friendly vs France on Friday night
- Matildas World Cup opener next Thursday night
There have been plenty of personnel changes in the Matildas’ dressing room over the past four years.
But it’s the smallest inclusions who are having a special impact ahead of the Women’s World Cup.
Gun midfielder Katrina Gorry 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 Gorry’s mum Linda, have all been involved in recent Matildas camps.
‘It’s quite different and no one really knew what to expect the first camp that we did have both kids in – and it was really welcoming,’ Yallop said.
Matildas star Katrina Gorry (pictured centre with her daughter Harper and fiancee Clara Markstedt, back) says it’s ‘pretty special’ that her girl gets to grow up with her teammates
Tameka Yallop (pictured right, with wife Kirsty and their daughter Harley) believes having kids around during camp helps the players get a much-needed mental break from football
‘It’s been more around allowing family in at meals and when we’re just used to having strictly team protocols, allowing family and a caretaker to be in and around that.
‘Those are the the adjustments that take some time, especially maybe for support staff or someone who’s always thinking about football to relax on and try and invite the family members into that.
‘That’s been the biggest change. Then there’s obviously a lot of logistics that goes into travelling with young kids – car seats and strollers and catering for food for them as well.’
On the surface, the rigidity of a high-performance environment and the flexibility required with young kids appear at odds.
Instead, they’ve co-existed beautifully.
‘Just having young kids, whether they’re having a laugh or throwing a tantrum, you forget about football for a minute and it is relaxing,’ Yallop said.
Gorry (pictured with a young fan as the Matildas got their World Cup jerseys on Tuesday) says ‘the room lights up a little bit’ when the stars’ kids walk through the door
Matildas vice captain Steph Catley said having toddlers at 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 pulls everyone together. Everyone’s an aunty now and you do feel that as well.
‘It’s definitely changed the whole environment and possibly even given us a little edge in the high performance because we are able to switch off and also emotionally feel something different as well as just 100 per cent football.’
Yallop joked Harley refers to the Matildas as her ‘teammates’ while Teagan Micah and Charli Grant consider Gorry and Harper like their family in Sweden.
Vice-captain Steph Catley said the toddlers brought ‘a lot of peace’ to the Matildas’ camp.
‘When they [Harley and Harper] walk in the door, the room lights up a little bit,’ Gorry said.
‘You forget the thoughts that are in your head when you are caught up on something that happened in a training or a win, lose or draw.
‘They’re always gonna have a smile on their face.
‘It’s definitely changed camp life for a lot of us. People want to be hanging out with the babies instead of sitting in their room and maybe thinking about the game.
‘It’s pretty special to know that she gets to grow up with a lot of these girls and look up to them.’