Professional soccer striker Kyah Simon plays for Australia’s national women’s team, The Matildas – as well as Sydney Football club and US team Boston Breakers. She was the first Indigenous Australian woman to score for Australia, and supports the next generation of female footballers by mentoring girls to develop their skills on and off the field.
Sporty from a young age, Kyah’s earliest athletic memories are playing tackle footy on the trampoline with big brother Aaron. Her first football team was the local soccer club, and she would spend hours perfecting her skills, “juggling a football out on the street trying to beat my score every single afternoon, or practising my dribble and ball skills in the backyard.”
Kyah attributes much of her success to confidence, saying she can look back over her career and pinpoint times she lacked strong self-belief based on how she was playing. To maintain and boost her confidence, she says nutrition and fitness are key.
“It’s a big part is how I am feeling physically,” she says. “Eating healthy and nutritious foods, avoiding sweets and sugars on a regular basis and exercising. As soon as I start to get my heart rate up and sweat, I instantly feel better about myself, which results in me playing better on the football pitch.”
“It's never an easy road to the top and there are always going to be setbacks, but it's the way you deal with those setbacks that defines you.”
Kyah’s strong mentality keeps her focused, and she believes every decision she makes impacts how quickly she achieves goals. This has played a crucial role in overcoming significant challenges, like three major injuries that kept her from playing for 6-15 months at a time. On each of these occasions, her determination and positive attitude saw her recovering and getting back on the field in due time.
“Sometimes it's just bad luck, but when you’re a professional athlete it can be a cruel world if you're not performing,” she says. “This means it takes accountability to ensure you get yourself back to your best, because no one else can do it for you.”
When she’s not playing football, Kyah encourages others with her message of resilience and self-confidence by public speaking and mentoring aspiring Matildas at her football clinics.
“A motto I live by is, ‘Don't limit your potential with low expectations’. It's never an easy road to the top and there are always going to be setbacks, but it's the way you deal with those setbacks that defines you.”
Kyah sees the clinics as an opportunity to positively influence as many young female footballers as possible, enabling them to go back to their teams (mostly male dominated) with the confidence to play their best game.
“I love being able to provide an all-girls football environment, where the girls come in for two days and are surrounded by other aspiring female footballers all following the same dream – and at the same time building self-confidence and belief, and learning new skills and techniques on the football pitch.”
For young girls dreaming of becoming an elite athlete like herself, her advice is simple: work hard, and believe in yourself. “You always want to be the hardest worker in the room, because there is always someone somewhere in the world working harder than you. Have belief, determination and work ethic.”