The face Susan Phonsongkham sees every time she scores a goal is that of her mother Narumol.
When the 18-year-old Young Matildas player switches sides for half-time, her mother Narumol also changes positions and starts cheerleading from the other side of the field.
“I feel very blessed to have my mum,” Phonsongkham tells SBS Life.
“She’s a superwoman. She’s very proud of me and she will support me in anything and everything I do.”
But the mother-daughter duo's journey to the national stage has not been without challenges. They arrived in Australia from Thailand as migrants in 2012 with little English. Narumol fell in love and married an Australian man in Thailand and the pair travelled to join him, settling in the western Sydney suburb of Mt Druitt. But the dream of a new life in Australia turned into a nightmare, with Narumol suffering physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the man she had left Thailand for.
Phonsongkham was 13 when she arrived in Australia. She found her childhood love of soccer wilting under the pressure of her home environment and abandoned the sport.
“[As soon as] I started walking, my mum just gave me a ball and said go out there and have fun and don’t come in and play barbies,” she said.
“[My stepdad] was not very supportive of me, and because of that I stopped playing soccer.”
Narumol fled the marriage with the help of a women’s group who placed Susan with a local soccer club where her talent and love for the game bloomed again.
“They helped us along the way to get our confidence back. That’s when I started playing again,” says Susan.
The teen then shifted schools to Burwood Girls High and began playing for the area club where she scored an astonishing 52 goals in a season. She was eventually spotted by Westfields Sports High School coach Leah Blayney and recruited to the school.
“I was so excited to be playing, I just let loose and went for it.”
Susan dreams of one day playing for the Matildas, and admits it’s been a “crazy journey” for her and her mum. She says keeping her mind on the present moment has helped her overcome obstacles to pursue her passion for soccer.
“My focus is always on the right now. My goal is to improve myself in every way at every training,” she says.
“My advice is do what you love and talk to your parents if you’re not feeling confident or going through tough times like I did. If your parents don’t support the dream you have, just keep it to yourself, have a mindset you want to achieve that goal and just go for it and work hard."
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800respect.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25). More information about mental health is available at Beyond Blue.
SBS is covering the biggest games of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™ tournament, live, free and in HD across television, radio and online. From June 8, watch or stream all Matildas games, the opening match, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final on SBS.
All SBS live matches, replays and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Today™ daily highlights show will be available to enjoy anytime and anywhere at SBS On Demand.
All 52 matches will be live on SBS Radio in multiple languages and The World Game website and app will stream all SBS matches live alongside the latest scores, video highlights, breaking news, and analysis.
Fans can also join the #WorldGameLIVE discussion show on Twitter, from 5.30pm AEST* each match day.
SBS is presenting the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ in partnership with Optus Sport.