A Christmas miracle will reunite the Yallops after more than six months apart.
Matildas midfielder Tameka Yallop has been separated from her wife, former New Zealand international Kirsty Yallop, and 15-month-old daughter Harley since June.
She departed for a pre-Olympics training camp and has been unable to re-join her NZ-based family since. The trio were meant to reunite in England after Tokyo, after Yallop signed to WSL club West Ham, but the delta-strain ruined those plans.
However a Christmas miracle means she will reunite with them on December 30.
"I don't know how, but there was a miracle [Thursday night] and I managed to get a spot in isolation in New Zealand for Christmas. So I will actually get to see my wife and daughter for New Year's," she said.
"I'll be in quarantine for Christmas but I'll take that if I get a week or so with them.
"I did have a good eight month period where I was with Harley and I was seeing all the milestones she was reaching. And now I'm seeing that over FaceTime, which is kind of crazy just to think how long I've been away from them.
"It does make everything a little bit more emotional and it really does tug on the heartstrings. It's definitely not something that I would wish upon any other mother or father for that matter, but ... at the same time, you're also grateful for what you have and the fact that I do have a little daughter to miss and watch grow up is pretty crazy and cool in itself too."
With thousands of people vying for a spot in NZ's quarantine, Yallop was shocked when she secured one.
"I think there's 20,000 people trying to get the same spot. So I'm very grateful for that, but I was not expecting it because I've been trying to do that for the last six months," she said.
"Now it's at a point where we're kind of just looking at how to get them out of New Zealand. And then there's also getting back into New Zealand after the season. And then just also looking at the safety for Harley as well, because she's obviously unvaccinated, as that's not really a thing for her age at the moment. So we're kind of playing it a little bit by ear."
In addition to separation by borders for athletes and their families, another thing rearing its head across Australia's sporting landscape, and the international sporting world, is female athletes giving birth and returning to elite sport.
Football Australia has no formal maternity policy in place for the Matildas and neither does the A-League Women's, whilst other national leagues such as the WNBL and Super Netball have ones in place.
The WNBL and SN cover various costs including carers for away games, but ALW clubs are not required to cover costs as players return. And new-mum Katrina Gorry is set to spend about 75 per cent of her Brisbane Roar wage on babysitting and travel costs this season for her daughter.
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Gorry is still a contracted-Matilda and has her sights set on making a comeback into the national side's roster in future. Yallop is the other mother in the Matildas camp, and took about six weeks off when her wife gave birth to Harley.
"[Kirsty] made sure she had fully fulfilled her football career before falling pregnant and she did officially retire from the national team and then also club representative stuff," Yallop said.
"If I was the one to carry, it's very hard to sort of balance both football and the baby as well. That takes time ... it's definitely doable, we are seeing more support around that now, but it also does need more attention."
In the US NWSL Racing Louisville City FC took its maternity support a step further by partnering with a fertility clinic for free preservation services for players such as egg freezing, embryo freezing and long-term storage.
Yallop said she would like to see more support and similar initiatives for female athletes in Australia looking to start a family mid-career like Gorry.
"I don't think those options were available for her or us at the time that we definitely wanted to start a family, so she definitely went about it as in she was retiring to start the family," she said.
"But in that short span of time, we've definitely seen changes and I think America is a good example of allowing both of those things to occur. So I think the more people that start doing it, the more attention you get, and the more support, and I think we've just got to keep fighting for that."
Although Yallop will have to wait an extra month to reunite with her family, 18 other internationally-based Matildas will reunite with their loved ones this week - for many the first time in two years - ahead of the friendlies against world number ones the United States.
Pictures of the Matildas interacting with loved ones for the first time in years - when they made their return to play on home soil last month - showed how much it meant to them to even interact from afar.
This time they will be able to embrace their loved ones, with quarantine measures no more for double vaxxed international arrivals in NSW.
The reuniting of families will play a part in the Matildas friendlies, alongside another milestone - Yallop's 100th cap and the possibility of Sam Kerr equalising, or surpassing, Tim Cahill's 50 national team goals.
"It's definitely showing my age, but it's also sort of kind of cool to celebrate the milestone at home and ... regardless of the result, it is nice to play tough competition in such an important match for me personally. So I am excited about that," Yallop said.
"I won't have family there, or not all of my family there, but I'll have a lot of close friends and local supporters, so I think that's also special as well."
The last time the two sides met, Australia went down 4-3 in the Olympic bronze medal match in Tokyo.
Yallop said it was a bittersweet memory, as they made history by making the semi-final but missed out on a medal.
The last time the Matildas beat the US was in 2017, and Yallop scored the winning goal.
"It'd be awesome to beat them again, they're top competition, and I think we've really put the pressure on them over the last four or five years," she said.
"We've become a pretty strong competitor against them, so it would be really nice to get another another win against them. And ... to do that on home soil would be awesome."
Some major names were left out of the 22-player US squad heading to Sydney, with Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan not named. Alongside Crystal Dunn, Christen Press, Kelley O'Hara, Mallory Pugh and Trinity Rodman who opted out of the US camp due to various reasons.
Similarly Tony Gustavsson has been bringing new young talent into the Australian squad to build experience and depth at the international level, and the two upcoming friendlies are no exception. With Sydney FC youngsters Jessika Nash and Charlize Rule stepping into the Matildas mix.
The Swede took on the head Matildas gig in September 2020, giving him eight months to prepare for Tokyo.
Yallop said this was the first occasion Gustavsson had the time to build the squad's depth leading into a competition, with the AFC Women's Asian Cup in India next year followed by the World Cup in 2023.
"A lot of teams are kind of going through sort of rebuilding or restructuring, or sort of just gearing up and trying to get depth for the World Cup because it is coming up fast," she said.
"And ... we're doing the same as well. But I don't think that takes away from anyone sort of credibility and being in being competitive. So I think it's gonna be a tough match either way."
The Matildas kick off their friendlies against the US on Saturday in Newcastle, before facing them again on November 30 in Sydney.