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Women's Football

Tiffany Cameron: The wandering rapper hunting for a home

(FIFA.com)
Tiffany Cameron of Jamaica looks on
© Getty Images
  • Tiffany Cameron starred for Jamaica at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™
  • Stints in Cyprus and Israel have punctuated a varied football journey
  • Cameron, currently out of contract, shares her experiences with FIFA.com

Seven years ago, Tiffany Cameron signed for Seattle Reign. At the time, it seemed like the realisation of a dream and the continuation of a rising star’s inexorable ascent. Instead, it proved the start of a meandering journey that has taken her to nine separate clubs in six different countries - never staying for more than a year.

Add in the fact that she has also switched national teams – from Canada to Jamaica – and Cameron might seem like the ultimate football nomad. But now, aged 28 and with experiences that range from World Cups through broken scoring records to three separate relegations, the Toronto-born wanderer is eager to find a home.

“What I really want now is stability,” the forward told FIFA.com. “If I could go somewhere, sign a long-term contract, settle down and set some goals for myself, that would be perfect. Ever since my mid-teens, I’ve been used to travelling the world, adapting to the cultures around me and enjoying so many great experiences. But it is exhausting sometimes, always moving on and starting afresh.”

Cameron’s clubs

2009-2012: Ohio State Buckeyes (USA)
“I played at Ohio State for four years as a youngster and it was a great experience. I broke the team’s all-time scoring record, which was awesome, and at that point everything looked great.”

2013: Seattle Reign (USA)
“This was my first professional contract and I was so, so excited. But although our team was full of great players, the chemistry just wasn’t right. I’ll never forget the coach, Laura Harvey, pulling me aside and telling me, ‘Tiff, you’re a great player but you need more experience’. She told me she’d be bringing in a more experienced player and letting me go. I was so upset – it felt like being fired from a job I loved. But I can see now that I wasn’t really ready at that point for the NWSL.”

2013: FC Kansas City (USA)
“Up until then I’d always been the star of my team, so that feeling of being rejected was a real shock to the system. But after a couple of days, I picked myself back up and one of the first things I did was to write down the name of a club I wanted to play for. That club was Kansas City. I’m big on attracting energy, so I wrote that down, put it under my pillow and, within a couple of days, they called to sign me. I still have that piece of paper! At the time, Vlatko Andonovski – the current USA coach – was in charge there, and learning from him was great for me.”

Tiffany Cameron celebrates a goal for 1899 Hoffenheim.
© imago images

2014: Hoffenheim (GER)
“When Laura Harvey let me go from the Reign, she told me it would be a great thing for me to go and play overseas, and I took that on board. I knew I had the athleticism but needed to improve technically and tactically. Hoffenheim was my first move abroad and it was a really big challenge for me, professionally and socially. The head coach didn’t speak any English, nor did most of the players, and I couldn’t speak any German. But I think sometimes players can’t grow unless they’re at least a little uncomfortable, and I learned a lot – about myself and about football. I also scored my first professional goal there!”

2015: Apollon Limassol (CYP)
“I remember when it was first mentioned, thinking ‘Cyprus? Really?’ But I knew a couple of NWSL players would go there during their off-season to compete in the Champions League, and that competition definitely appealed to me too. Unfortunately, although I scored some goals and did well, we never made it past the group stage. But it was fun and we were right next to the beach, so in all respects – getting back to scoring goals and enjoying life – it was therapeutic in a way.”

2015-16: F.C Ramat HaSharon (ISR)
“It was an old friend from Ohio State who convinced me to move to Israel, although I was totally against it at first. Before I got there, I said I wanted to set myself the goals of being the league's leading scorer and help my team win their first championship. And I did both (scoring 38 times in 24 appearances). That was cool, being part of some history. It was a great life experience too, going to the Dead Sea and Jerusalem, and riding a camel - things I would never have experienced otherwise.”

2016-17: Borussia Monchengladbach (GER)
“It was comfortable for me in Israel and they wanted me to stay, extend my contract and play in the Champions League. And the money was great. But I believe that we’re in this world to keep pushing ourselves and be the best versions of ourselves, so I told my agent that I’d love to move back to Germany. Unfortunately, it was Borussia’s first year after being promoted to the top flight and we ended up going straight back down.”

2017: FF USV Jena (GER)
“Another German club, USV Jena, took an interest in me at that time and I signed with them after Borussia got relegated, just to keep myself in the top league. But then they ended up getting relegated too! I’ve been pretty unfortunate that way.”

2018: Vittsjo GIK (SWE)
“This was just a short-term move, to a club that needed a striker for the remainder of their season. But I’d undergone some surgery after leaving Germany and, looking back, I think I rushed my recovery a little because they never saw the best of me in Sweden.”

2019: Stabaek (NOR)
“Norway was another very interesting experience… although, again, we got relegated! But Norway off the field was amazing – it’s a beautiful country.”

2020: ?
“As I’ve shown, I’m pretty open-minded about where I go to play! But I also know from experience that I need to choose carefully, and I’m clear on one thing: I don’t want to go to another club that’s going to be fighting relegation, just trying to survive. If I can find a club that wants to fight at the top end of the table and really build something, I’d love to settle down.”

Tiffany Cameron of Jamaica poses for a portrait during the official FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 portrait session.
© Getty Images

From Canuck to Reggae Girl

Amid that dizzying flurry of club moves, Cameron also found time to switch national teams. As a youngster, she had been one of Canada’s rising stars, excelling in red at the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. But the forward’s increasingly nomadic club career did not lend itself to establishing herself alongside the likes of Christine Sinclair – “the most humble player I’ve played with” – and she drifted out of the international picture.

“It was actually as far back as 2014 that Hubert Busby, who’s now Jamaica’s head coach, reached out to me about making the change,” recalled Cameron, both of whose parents were born in the Caribbean nation. “And I was interested. At the time though I was still in the Canadian pool of players, and wasn’t ready to make a change.

“But I’m good friends with Nicole McClure (the goalkeeping heroine of Jamaica’s qualifying campaign) she was joking with me after the team qualified that maybe it was time to join. Ironically, six hours after they qualified, coach Busby sent me an email. The chance to be part of a group making history was something I couldn’t pass up. I knew that the team was fairly young and felt I would be a good asset because of my experience and leadership skills. And I’m really glad I took the chance because the World Cup was amazing - everything I expected and more - despite our team's results.”

Musical adventures

If there was an added surprise to that France 2019 experience, it came when FIFA - having learned of her musical abilities – contacted Cameron about a World Cup-related rap. The result was broadcast and shared around the world, and developed into a full-length song. It also continued a keen interest in music that has flourished alongside Cameron’s football career.

“'Our Time is Now' in France was so fun. I had such a good time doing that, and my team-mates loved it – a couple of them even got a bit teary-eyed,” she said. “For me, that all started when I was in school. I would write some rhymes back then and, believe me, they were terrible! I loved Missy Elliott, 50 Cent, Eminem, but Missy especially – the swagger she has is amazing. But I didn’t really start taking my music seriously until I went to college – that was the first time I went to a professional studio, and to record a song called ‘Buckeyes Put Your Hands Up’, an anthem for Ohio State.

“I kept at it when I went abroad, and one of my favourites is called ‘For the Love of the Game’ because the lyrics – ‘I didn’t do it for the money; I didn’t do it for the fame; I didn’t do it for the glory; I did it for the love of the game’ – sum up what pushes me on, and what pushes so many other female players. Generally, there’s not a lot of money in women’s soccer, so there has to be a passion and a dream to keep you going.”

Cameron certainly has that passion and, already, her dream has taken her around the world. Her hope is that now, aged 28, it guides her to a club and city in which she can finally lay down some roots.

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