Money & Career

Kyah Simon Talks Life With The Matildas, Inspiring Women And How She Balances Her Mental Health

The football star is preparing for her third World Cup in 2023

As far as Australian athletes go, Kyah Simon is nothing short of inspiring. Throughout her 12-year football career, Simon has not only competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but she was the first Indigenous Australian player to score at a FIFA World Cup in 2011.

And now, the 29-year-old striker continues to earn success-after-success as she splits her time between two major football teams: The Matildas and PSV of the Eredivisie Vrouwen in the Netherlands. 

Speaking to marie claire, she revealed how it felt to be embarking on said journey towards 2023 in Australia, not only for the third time around but in the new, sustainable Nike National Team Kits—released on September 17.

“As a team, we’ve always said that our Nike Kits are the most comfortable. Even when we play in club, we’re always saying, ‘We wish our kits were Nike because they fit the best’,” Simon tells marie claire. “When you’re playing and you feel comfortable, you look good, I think that really gives you confidence in the way that you play.”

Kyah Simon
(Credit: Courtesy of Nike)

The Nike kits mark a new uniform—constructed with 100% recycled polyester from plastic bottles—which will unify the Matildas for the 2023 World Cup taking place in Australia, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“This kit itself is super light, super comfortable. You want to feel light when you’re playing and that’s exactly how I feel even putting it on now,” she says. “I think there’s a lot of things to look forward to, and what better way to host the World Cup than to be in a fresh Nike Kit on home soil?”

As an Indigenous athlete, playing at the top level of women’s football for the entire world to see, Simon is clearly a role model for so many. When asked what it meant to her, she not only credited a role model of hers, but also revealed her hopes for the younger generation of athletes to follow in her footsteps.

“It’s massively important to me, especially for Aboriginal people, Aboriginal culture and Indigenous people in Australia,” Simon revealed. “And I think something that’s so crucial is the person that was my role model growing up, Cathy Freeman. And visually seeing her represent our country inspired me to do the same.”

“So, for me, I’m hoping that the position that I’m in—playing for the Matildas, have been now for 12 years, hopefully, have a fair few years left still being only 29—I’m hoping that I can really inspire a lot of young, Indigenous females, and also males, to pursue football.”

She continued: “It’s never really the first preference in Indigenous cultures, it’s usually AFL or NRL, but I think a lot of my young cousins are picking up playing football, or soccer, so I think that’s so close to home. But you could imagine the impact that would have for young Indigenous kids all over Australia.”

“It’s definitely something that I take with pride and privilege, and I really hope to see a lot of Indigenous athletes wearing the green and gold in the near future.”

In this way, Simon is also paving the way for the future of women in sport. And with her dedication to her craft, she herself has become the role model for many young women “what females can do in sport” and how they “can achieve just as much as our male counterparts, and that there is a profession that you can follow and chase.”

As for her mental health, Simon stresses the importance of maintaining a balanced mind. And while every job has its ups-and-downs, a positive mind has to be achieved by putting in the work and recognising when it’s time to re-focus.

“I think being a professional athlete is all about ups-and-downs. You’d be lying to yourself if you said you were in a positive mind frame the whole time,” Simon says.

She continues: “For me, I try and re-focus when I need to. Setting new goals— I’m big on goal setting—I find that really helps me re-focus, and just having a balance.”

By balancing her career, her personal relationships and time to herself, Simon nods to the importance of maintaining one’s mental health, and that despite what lies ahead, a balance is mandatory to remain focused and happy, above all else.

“When you find a balance, I think that’s when I’m truly at my happiest and when I play my best football,” Simon revealed. “But also, having a balance in things away from football, relationships with family and friends.”

“At the end of the day, not having to compromise on anything, and keeping a balance on all parts of your life and finding that happy medium—I think really helps me to perform at the top of my game.”

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