The “pop” of an ACL; it’s the sound that every female footballer dreads.
For Matildas striker Kyah Simon it came on 21 October 2013, just minutes after being substituted into an international friendly against World No.1 USA.
As Simon went down in anguish, there was a collective gasp then a hush from a packed stadium and many Australians watching the broadcast.
Simon remembers that moment and hearing the confirmed diagnosis vividly.
“For me it was taking on the realisation that I did just do my ACL and I was going to be out of the game for 12 months.”
“Almost just realising that bad things do happen and how am I going to bounce back from this and how am I going to come back bigger and better.”
From the reconstructive surgery onwards the 23 year old turned her focus and positivity to getting back to the game that has seen her create so many iconic moments.
“[It was] kind of having as much of a positive mindset in a negative situation as I could.”
“I never really let it get me down in the dumps and get me in a bit of rut.”
Unfortunately, ACL injuries are not uncommon in Australian women’s football with the news coming too often and the numbers too high. Simon utilised the experiences of her fellow Matildas to navigate the mentally and physically challenging rehab journey.
“[I picked up] ust little bit and pieces when you get in conversation with some of the players that have done it previously.”
“When I have been in doubt I have gone to a few players like Katie Gill, [who] helped me out with sending through some of her training.”
“It just gives you a piece of mind about the feelings you are feeling and the different stages that you go through.”
The ACL injury was not Simon’s first major injury but it has kept her out for the longest duration. There have been setbacks and timing changes but 13 months on from San Antonio, Simon is set to return to competitive football.
“I kind of feel like a little kid in a candy store. I am that excited to be finally getting back out there on the park.”
The last time Simon played in the Sky Blue jersey, she was captaining Sydney FC to their second W-League championship.
It is yet to be determined how many minutes Sydney FC coach Dan Barrett will give the striker but Simon is just happy to be back on the pitch.
“It’s one thing to be in training alongside the girls…it’s another thing to play in a full on competition game.”
Her return to W-League action is one of many steps towards the ultimate goal; the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“I’m not looking too far ahead, but I’ve got at the back of my mind that the World Cup is definitely in my sights. I want to be hitting peak form come June / July, ready for the tournament.”
“For now it’s just getting my base fitness up, getting the minutes under my belt, working on the small things to get to that bigger picture further down the track.”