The journey of a lifetime

Happy family: Teagan with father Steve, sister's Hayley and Kaitlin, mother Yvonne and grandmother Ann Hope prior to leaving for the Tokyo Olympics. photograph supplied

Zac Standish

The past two weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind for Moe-born goalkeeper Teagan Micah, as she unexpectedly claimed a starting position for the Matildas and proceeded to be one of the team’s best performers through their incredible Olympic campaign.

Highlighted by a seven-save performance against Great Britain in the Quarter Final, which ultimately proved the difference between the two sides, the 23-year old UCLA graduate has certainly cemented herself as a household name in Australian football as the team now gears up for a home World Cup in 2023.

For Micah’s mother Yvonne and her entire family, these past two weeks have been equally surreal, following what has been a meteoric rise from the comfort of their lounge room in Brisbane.

Speaking with The Express, she described the emotions of watching the Matildas’ heartbreaking semi-final loss to Sweden on Monday night.

“They (the team) would be gutted, we were gutted but they did put up a good fight and in my opinion had the opportunity to win – but that is just football – sometimes the cards don’t fall in your favour,” Micah said.

“It is surreal actually (watching the games), I get so nervous leading up to it now – I never really used to, but being at this level you have the weight of the world coming down so it is just awesome to watch and she has worked very hard for it and sacrificed a lot to get there.

“Even all the girls as well, they have put in everything to get this far and it has been hard work for them with a lot of them being overseas and unable to get home for the past 18 months – so the overall emotion is really just pride and excitement for what is to come.”

Somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into the Olympics, Micah detailed the family’s expectations leading into the Games.

“Running up to the Olympics we always thought that she would go but we always imagined she would be taken as the third keeper, like what she was for the World Cup two years ago, more for the experience,” she said.

“The fact that Lydia (Williams) had gone into camp injured possibly helped a little bit, but Tony (Gustavsson) had the belief in her to firstly put her in the friendly against Sweden, where she kept a clean sheet, and I think that was probably the starting point for her really pushing to be number one.

“I don’t even think in her own mind she thought she would be the starting Keeper for an Olympics at just 23 years of age with limited international experience – never in a million years did we think she would be starting as well, so it really has been a great surprise for us and we have been riding every bump.”

After claiming the starting position between the sticks for the team’s second group stage match against Sweden, Micah quickly adapted to the higher level with her confidence and assuredness seeing her keep a clean sheet against the well-renowned US team to ensure the Matildas a spot in the knockout stage.

This would set up a quarter-final showdown with Great Britain, where Micah would achieve overnight celebrity status for her Player of the Match performance in Australia’s thrilling 4-3 victory.

“It was huge, we were all here yelling and screaming with a big projector screen showing the game,” she said.

“It was just unbelievable watching that game and the saves that she made to keep them in the game it really was just awesome to see her rise to the occasion – I have had a lot of calls from people down in the Valley, who have now picked up the connection of Teagan being from the area so it has been really good.”

Similar to most elite level athletes, Teagan comes from relatively humble beginnings with her journey in the game of soccer beginning right here in the Latrobe Valley.

Micah described the first eight years of her daughter’s life growing up in Moe and playing with local team Moe United.

“Both my husband and I were born down in the Latrobe Valley region so we have long had roots here, with the three girls being born at the old Moe Hospital – we lived on Albert Street and the girls went to Albert Street Primary School,” she said.

“Teagan always wanted to go and do AusKick every year and had some really good little male friends at school and they used to rough and tumble with her and play all types of sport, it wasn’t until they decided they wanted to play soccer that Teagan changed tune from Aussie Rules and went down to Moe United.

“She then went on to do two years at Moe United with my second daughter Kaitlin before we moved to Queensland and she just fell in love with the game and her passion only grew as she continued to climb the ranks moving into her teenage years – 15 years later here she is at the Olympics.”

With her college career now finished, a position as the Matildas first choice goalkeeper sewn up and a two-year contract with Swedish team Sandviken waiting, Micah explained her hopes for her Teagan’s career moving forward.

“It is a bit hard to top the Olympics but I hope she keeps going and gets to play in the home world cup here in 2023, which will be huge for Matildas, and then hopefully she can push on to do Paris, Los Angeles and then depending how she is going Brisbane in 2032,” she said.

“I also hope she does well overseas, embarking on a new chapter in Sweden now it will be exciting for her to experience a new culture and mature into a better player and person.”
The Matildas quest for a spot on the podium concludes tonight as they face the USA in the bronze medal match at 6pm.