Matildas star Kyah Simon hoping to inspire Indigenous girls

Matildas star Kyah Simon hoping to inspire Indigenous girls

SBS World News Radio: Kyah Simon is in some of the best form of her life having top scored in Australia's successful Rio Olympic qualifying campaign earlier this month.

Kyah Simon is in some of the best form of her life having top scored in Australia's successful Rio Olympic qualifying campaign earlier this month.

Ms Simon was inspired to pursue a career in professional sport after watching fellow indigenous athlete Cathy Freeman storm to 400 metres gold at the Sydney Olympics.

And now she's hoping to play a key part in the Matildas Rio adventure.

John Baldock spoke with Simon about her inspirations, and aspirations in what could be the biggest year of her young life.

"Logarzo releasing De Vanna in behind already in the opening minute, and its back off the post and in ! From who else following up Kyah Simon, Australia strike in the opening minute. They are red hot in Japan."

At just 24 years of age Kyah Simon set the Matildas recent Olympic campaign alight. A stellar performance saw her score four goals including a stunning hatrick against Vietnam as Australia cruised through the tournament undefeated.

And she's proud of her involvement with the team.

"We beat some of the best countries in the world and we're now number one in Asia, heading to Rio Olympics this year is a dream come true for every single one of the Matildas."

Earlier in the year a stand-off over pay and conditions saw the team stand together to fight for a better deal.

They got one, and that experience stood them in good stead.

Simon believes the off-field fighting helped them achieve what they did on it.

"I think it helped with the unity of the group the team morale. I've never been part of a group of girls that are so gelled so well together, get along so well and I think that's reflected in our results and the way that we play."

After the Matildas secured a place at the Rio Olympics, the team received a video message of congratulations from none other than Simon's biggest inspiration as a youngster Cathy Freeman.

She was just 8 years old when Freeman stormed to victory at the Sydney Olympics and the memory of that night was an important part of her becoming the star she has become today.

"Obviously watching a strong indigenous woman like Cathy Freeman be so successful and pretty much carry the weight of Australia on her shoulders was a memorable moment for me and it brought tears to my eyes and I'll never forget that."

And Simon has already started hosting training camps for youngsters in a bid to inspire the next generation.

And its something she's committed to.

"Yeah I would like to obviously think that I could make that same impact that Cathy had on my life to other young girls out there and I'm hoping through my football but also being a positive role model off the pitch I can really help pave the way and obviously be a positive role model for those girls."

Between now and the Rio Games, Simon is playing in the United States with the Boston Breakers.

The Matildas Coach is Alen Stajcic and he hopes she'll fine tune her game in that environment.

"She's playing in America in the next couple of months so that's another opportunity to improve even more. So the more football she gets and the more quality football, I can see her being one of the real stars of international football over the coming years."

And if she makes the impact those in the know believe she is capable of, Simon will dedicate success at the Rio Olympics to her family, friends and all those that care about women's sport.

"It would be a proud moment for me to obviously show them that it was all worthwhile, it would be a memorable moment and I just can't wait to get over to Rio."

Nor can her growing army of fans, that believe Australia may well be celebrating with a medal come the final of the women's football competition.



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