Kirsty Yallop on wife Tameka playing for something bigger than football
Tameka Yallop scoring her maiden Olympic goal was a proud moment for Matildas fans, but none were prouder than Tameka's wife, Kirsty, who had witnessed the difficulty she'd endured on her journey back into the national team.
Her 20th minute goal in Australia's win against New Zealand in their Olympic opener had been a long time coming for Yallop, who last scored a goal in 2018 against Brazil and had spent 18 months away from the national team.
The combination of jubilation and relief was palpable as Yallop slid across the pitch on her knees smiling from ear to ear.
It was vindication for the new mum, proving on the biggest sporting stage in the world, she was where she was meant to be.
But prior to the Games, Tameka missed out on the Matildas' first camp under new coach, Tony Gustavsson.
"It was really hard for Meeks to be left out of the squad due to COVID restrictions," wife and Football Fern, Kirsty Yallop said.
"She really missed being with the team and given they hadn't had a camp in so long, to miss that first one back was hugely disappointing.
"Having not met her new coach and not getting the opportunity to prove herself, she put a lot of pressure on herself to ensure she would be ready when she got her chance," she continued.
"As a former international player myself, I could definitely relate to how Meeks was feeling and the huge amount of pressure she was putting on herself.
"As her partner, I just wanted to make sure I was supporting her in the best way I could, whether it was helping her out with her individual training sessions on the pitch or in the gym, helping her find the best mens team so she could train with them, or even just taking care of Harley so she could focus on her training.
"I also made sure she enjoyed her time with us as a family and could switch off a little when she wasn’t training and make the most of the extra time we got to spend together."
The hard work that the family put in paid off, with Tameka being selected for the Matildas' June friendlies against Denmark and Sweden, their July friendly against Japan, and then, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
"Meeks was incredibly proud and excited to be selected to go to the Olympics," Kirsty said.
"It was a massive relief for her, knowing she had worked so hard to be ready and to be at her best for the Matildas.
"I know how hard she works and how committed and determined she is, I get to see it every day, so to find out she was going off living her dream, I couldn’t have been happier for her.
"When she scored that goal, I was just super proud of her," she continued.
"You could see how much it meant to her and I think it was such a great goal, well deserved by the whole team and Meeks smashed it home, I was just so happy for her."
Kirsty says Tameka's ability to leave no stone unturned in her pursuits of greatness is what she most loves and admires about her wife, with these qualities also contributing to her success both as a footballer and a parent.
"Meeks is a very determined and focused person, there are no shortcuts in her world. She does every bit of hard work she can, to be successful in anything she chooses to do. This is an attribute I really love and admire about her," she said.
"You can see this when she plays, as she gives it everything she's got. She is one of those players you always want on your team.
"She also translates this to her parenting," she continued.
"Meeks loves to see Harley explore and try new things and she's always so supportive and encouraging, providing Harley with opportunities to learn and develop her new skills."
When Kirsty and Tameka welcomed baby Harley into the world just under one year ago, it added another dimension and significance to Tameka's football, who wants to be the best role model she can be for her daughter.
"Now she has Harley looking up to her, I think that has given her something extra to play for, knowing her little girl will be watching her on the TV," Kirsty said.
"As well as teaching her to be loving and caring, we want Harley to know and believe that she can do anything she wants to, to dream big and we will support her all the way.
"She already is showing that she is a strong and independent little boss-lady, which I absolutely love, even though it can be challenging as she is very determined and knows exactly what she wants! But I believe these traits will help her go a long way in life."