Kyah Simon joked she was disappointed when she captained Sydney FC to their second 2012 W League championship earlier this year. “I set a goal to score a hat-trick today, so I’m a bit disappointed I didn’t do that,” Simon said, despite scoring a goal and an assist. “But I’d much prefer holding the trophy than losing and scoring a hat-trick. I’m really proud of the girls.”
Kyah is no stranger to such achievements. The Sydney native is the first Indigenous woman to score for Australia, has represented Australia playing for the Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and was player of the year for the 2010/11 W-League season. As a striker, she has shown coolness under pressure in converting the final penalty against North Korea to hand Australia the Asian Cup. Off the field, she’s looking forward to studying management this year while juggling her soccer career. And she’s still only 21.
Onya Magazine contacted Kyah to find out the highs of her career, the challenges she faces as a woman in sport and to uncover a bit about herself.
How did you start playing soccer? Tell us about your earliest memory.
A close childhood friend, my next door neighbour, suggested I go down to my local soccer club with him to give football a go. My earliest memory was standing in a line with my first ever soccer team after our coaches divided our age group up into four different teams and my best friend and I making sure we got put in the same team.
Who were your idols growing up and why?
Cathy Freeman because she was a very successful Indigenous female.
What type of training do you do? What does a typical week look like?
My training week consists of four field sessions which are made up of tactics, passing, shooting, possession and two gym sessions which involve weights and cardio.
What is the highlight of your career to date?
Scoring the two goals in our (Australia) 2-1 win against Norway to get us through to the quarter finals in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
What challenges does women’s soccer face?
One of the biggest challenges that face female footballers is the lack of recognition and publicity we receive for our dedication, hard work and success. While there is strong support from our family, friends and Football Federation Australia, we are still only a semi-professional sport in Australia. Most of the girls need to have jobs to supplement any earnings they may make from football. This also makes it hard for players to get sponsorships. While I am lucky to have some sponsors including Nike, many of the players still have to pay their own way which means we lose players earlier.
How do you feel about men’s soccer and their success?
I love to see the men’s football teams succeed, but it’s a bittersweet feeling when we achieve just as much, if not more, and get limited recognition for doing so.
What do you think about women’s soccer right now? Is it growing?
I think women’s football is growing dramatically; our success at the previous two World Cups has definitely made an impact on that. Our fan base and support is continually growing year in year out which is great and makes playing even more special – especially in front of a crowd like at the Westfield W-League Grand Final in Melbourne (nearly 4,500 people attended).
Why should people come to support women’s soccer?
People should come to support women’s football because it’s entertaining, you can see elite females playing competitively and physically against each other and it’s quality football. People who give it a chance are more often than not are pleasantly surprised by the high level of play and the skill and speed of the game.
If you weren’t a soccer player what would you be?
Playing another sport.
Describe yourself in three words.
Determined, easy going, persistent.
What is the one piece of technology you cannot live without?
What is your guilty pleasure?
What are your best and worst qualities?
Best: people skills and giving. Worst: a bit too upfront and honest sometimes.
What is your favourite thing about Australia?
Our laid-back culture and summer.
What is your ideal travel destination?
Secluded island with crystal clear waters.