sports

Indigenous soccer star Kyah Simon is the role model your daughter needs.

This is another instalment of Mamamia’s ‘Sport Siren’ series – where we will shine a spotlight on a brilliant woman involved in Aussie sport every single Saturday.

This is Kyah Simon’s story…

Kyah Simon was eight years old when she knew she wanted to be a soccer player.

She was born into a rugby league family (and played for many years) but when her best friend and next door neighbour in Quakers Hill, a suburb in Sydney’s west, hassled her to join him at the local soccer club and she agreed, that was it. She fell in love.

Obsessed after just a few sessions, the determined little girl declared to her mum she was going to be a soccer star, for Australia no less. Oh, and Manchester United, obviously.

Simon never managed the latter but in 2007, at 16, the teenager was crowned a Matilda.

Kyah Simon joined the Matildas at 16. Source: Supplied

Four years later, the striker -- whose mother is a proud Anaiwan woman and father a Biripi man -- became the first Indigenous Australian to score a goal in a FIFA World Cup.

"When I actually did it I didn’t know what I had achieved until after the game," she tells Mamamia, adding it was a journalist who first broke the news to her.

"At the time -- actually I still can't really, I have to pinch myself -- I couldn't get my head around the enormity of that statement. I’m privileged to wear the Australian jersey, let alone achieve something like that," she says.

"It wasn’t a male, it was a female and it was another indigenous role model for young girls."

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The 25-year-old, who has played for several sides in the Australian W-League and for the Boston Breakers in the US, has always counted Cathy Freeman among her idols.

Watching the indigenous athlete's historic run at the Sydney Olympics made her believe she could shoot for gold as well.

"Cathy Freeman was my role model growing up and if I can do that for any other young Aboriginal girls, that’s something I want to do during my career and also post my career as well," she says.

Happily, Simon is also a budding businesswoman and in March last year began running her own soccer clinics for eight to 18-year-old girls.

Over just a couple of days, she saw her pupils' confidence skyrocket as she imparted her invaluable skills on and off the pitch, including lessons on goal-setting and resilience.

"They can take it back to their school work, communities and even their football teams," she explains.

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For the next year, Simon will be based in Sydney after opting to skip the National Women's Soccer League season in Boston to "refresh [her] mind and body for the next three years," and recover from an ongoing shoulder issue.

She's also hoping it will mean she has more time to engage with her community on a grassroots level, "rather than them just see me through a TV or in a newspaper."

Meanwhile, this weekend marks the end of FFA's second annual Female Football Week, a national celebration of women and girls in the game launched on the eve of International Women's Day, for which Simon is an ambassador, alongside her fellow Matilda Michelle Heyman and coach Alen Stajcic, among others.

They're hoping it will help drive female participation in the sport, which, thanks to the efforts of its pioneering stars to secure better pay and conditions at the top, is finally able to offer a viable career pathway for women.

LISTEN: ICYMI, here's what went down in round six of the AFLW. (Post continues...)

"It’s just a game you fall in love with and there’s so many positives about playing it," Simon says.

"I’ve made my best friends, traveled the world, experienced different cultures and places, all through the sport I fell I love with as an eight-year-old."

In 2017, Mamamia is committed to covering all aspects of women's sport. Check out more of our sports stories here.