Pantene Moment of Strength: Tameka Yallop’s rollercoaster ride back into the national team

Just 18 months ago, Tameka Yallop feared she would never get the opportunity to represent her country again.

Her fears would come bubbling to the surface when Tony Gustavsson named his first camp for friendlies with Germany and the Netherlands, and she was not included.

It would be the first chance in over 400 days that the Matildas would meet, with players given the opportunity to impress the newly appointed coach.  

I’m missing out on an opportunity to prove myself to a new coach by doing what I love

Yallop was living in New Zealand at the time, where she and her wife had just welcomed their new daughter, Harley.


For the first time in what felt like forever, she found herself outside the team environment, and the overwhelming dread hanging over her head that she had missed her opportunity to impress Gustavsson was starting to take a toll on the experienced midfielder.

Yallop would begin training by herself at home, determined to get back to her best. She had confidence and inner strength to train in isolation and push herself to an elite level.

Tameka notes that usually surrounded by teammates she draws strength from them, with their belief pushing her to be the best she can be. However, not in camp she had to look within to find strength.

Before long, not only was Yallop getting back to her peak physically, she was mentally the strongest she’d ever been, knowing that if she ever got the chance to go back to a Matildas camp she would be ready to impress and book her ticket to Tokyo.

Yallop would make the move back to Brisbane to play in the 2020/21 W-League season with her former club Brisbane Roar. She would start regularly for the club and build her confidence back up.  

 

I did only have one chance in camp to prove myself to the new coach

Her chance came when she was called up for the Matildas' June friendlies against Denmark and Sweden. To say Tameka impressed would be an understatement. So much so that she started both games for the Matildas and was back to her best.

There was no doubt Yallop proved herself to Tony Gustavsson earning her ticket to Tokyo and was selected for her second Olympic Games.


Her sacrifice would all come to fruition in the Matildas opening game against New Zealand, at the 20-minute mark.

Yallop would pick up the ball unmarked in the box and blast in her very first Olympic goal.

The goal was extremely personal to Tameka on a number of levels. The sacrifice made to get there, coupled with the feeling of knowing her young daughter was watching her mother reach her dreams, made the goal and the jubilant celebration all that much sweeter.