Matildas legend and iconic indigenous sportsperson Lydia Williams has opened up about her upbringing and European ambitions.
Speaking to the popular Melbourne City fan podcast, Talking City, Williams spoke about her unusual journey to football stardom from humble roots in the West Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie.
She said "football has given me everything", but admitted that she didn't know who she was at the beginning of her career, and has had to mature as a person outside of the game over the past few years.
“I didn’t really have an identity when I first started playing,” she concedes.
“It was just ‘Lydia the Footballer’, and while it is ‘Lydia the Footballer’, now I’ve found my identity through the sport as well, and it’s ‘Lydia the Author, Footballer, Super-Keeper, Coffee-Drinker’…”
“For me it’s always about trying to better myself and showing that it doesn’t matter your background or how you grew up, there’s an opportunity for you to excel in something you’re passionate about,” she explained.
“It just so happens that I’m one of those stories [where] I didn’t think that I’d ever be travelling the world and playing this beautiful game from when I was growing up in the desert not having shoes.”
Williams spoke frankly about the experience of joining Melbourne City and how professionally the club's female program was run compared to other W-League clubs at the time.
“This is how it should be run,” she said. “This is professionalism. This is a club that has the resources to really invest in a women’s team.”
“If (other clubs) wanted to compete with City, they had to match what we were doing and better it.”
But now Williams believes the time may have come - like so many of her Matildas teammates - to pursue opportunities in Europe.
The goalkeeper says the toll that playing in the NWSL and W-League takes on a player physically eventually shortens their career.
“For longevity of the body, Europe’s probably the way to go,” Williams explains.
“It's probably like a week or two [off] between seasons, which isn’t long at all. You really don’t get a preseason because you just can’t, your body’s tired already.”