Taylor Ray "shook" at the thought of CommBank Matildas debut

Sydney FC midfielder Taylor Ray is one of five potential debutants looking to make their senior national team debut in the CommBank Matildas' upcoming friendlies against Spain and Portugal later this month.

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After being unable to answer her original call-up in January due to contracting COVID-19, the 21-year-old is excited for an opportunity to showcase her talent in the green and gold as we edge closer to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023™.

“That was a very devastating time to get COVID. It was an opportunity I’d been waiting such a long time for," Ray said of contracting the virus just before she was due to travel to the Dubai training camp that preceded the 2022 Women's Asian Cup.

"This time around I’m so excited for it. After the season Sydney FC had as a team and [the season I've had] myself, I think I’m coming off a high note, so I’m very pumped to go straight into the camp.”

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Despite her fantastic A-League Women’s season and her previous call up to the Dubai camp, Ray describes her emotion upon receiving the call from CommBank Matildas' Assistant Coach Mel Andreatta as, “shook.”

“I was very shook to say the least," Ray exclaimed.

"I was actually on my way to the movies with a friend and Mel called me to tell me the news. I went through so many emotions, reflecting on some of the setbacks I have gone through. I just thought to myself, 'Wow, I guess my time has finally come.'

"I’m someone who believes everything happens for a reason so I’m glad it’s finally here.”

Two back-to-back ACL injuries are mostly to blame for the youngster's setbacks so early in her career.

Fans of the A-League Women’s will recall the heartbreaking moment when a 17-year-old Ray tore her ACL on the field for Sydney FC in 2019. It was her second ACL injury, after going through the same thing three years prior. It is a moment that has shaped her career ever since.

“To do my second ACL, that just hit home even more, because I felt like I let my family down, I felt like a bit of a failure in a way," Ray shared.

"But I think those setbacks have really shaped me into such a stronger person mentally. It’s also changed the way that I play. Now, I am much more appreciative of all the prehab we do, the recovery, the importance of diet and nutrition, all those factors I think are very under-looked," she continued.

Ray said that going through such tough setbacks so early on in her career, has set her up with the resilience and skills she needs to not only motivate herself but to help other teammates who may face similar challenges.

"I think I’m very resilient in that regard, to know what I can do for myself, but also how I can help others who go through similar experiences as well.

“Going through two ACL recoveries really crystalised what my main goals are. It helped me realise the goals I want to achieve in my life, on and off the pitch and playing for the Matildas is something I've wanted to do since I was a young girl playing in Townsville."

Ray says that the moment she steps onto the field as a senior CommBank Matildas player, will be the proudest of her career so far – not just for herself, but for her family as well, who made the decision to relocate from Townsville to Sydney to help advance her career when she was only 14 years old.

"The sacrifices my family have made for me, to even move to Sydney in the first place all comes down to one moment and one feeling that I’ll get when I step onto that field," she explained.

“Everything I’ve gone through in my career, it's all worth it when I can make myself and my family proud. That’s a really big thing for me."

To potentially make her debut against teams with the talent of Spain and Portugal only heightens the excitement for Ray.

“Spain is a top team. I’ve watched a lot of their players in the last few years and it’s crazy that we’ve never versed them. To make my debut against such a talented group is amazing and with some of my best mates also going, what’s a better than that?”

Australia’s international friendlies against Spain and Portugal will be broadcast live on Network 10, 10 Play and Paramount+. Coverage for the CommBank Matildas v Spain will commence at 5.00 am AEST.   


Spain v Australia  
Date: Saturday, 25 June (local) / Sunday, 26 June (AUS)  
Time: 9.30pm (local) / 5.30am (AEST)  
Venue: Estadio Nuevo Colombino, Huelva  
Broadcast: Network 10, 10 Play and Paramount+  
Portugal v Australia  
Date: Tuesday, 28 June (local) / Wednesday, 29 June (AUS)  
Time: 9.00pm (local) / 6.00am (AEST)  
Venue: Estádio António Coimbra da Mota, Estoril  
Broadcast: Network 10, 10 Play and Paramount+ 

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This article was originally published on the CommBank Matildas website.