How First Nations footballer Kyah Simon found her voice

Kyah Simon has always been proud.

It was one of the first lessons learned from his terrible mother, Pam, Anaiwan’s mother from northern New South Wales, and his father, Gordon, Biripi and Kamilaroi from Newcastle.

Like many of the First Nations, Pam and Gordon’s pride got into trouble; the suffering lay in their whole lives like mud, encouraging them all over time.

Pam was one of 13 children. Her own mother, Betty, was disfellowshipped at a young age to work. He fled when he was 14 years old, and his homeland invited him to return home.

At one point, Betty met Reg – a white man. His family soon abandoned him, and the two moved to Sydney. By this time Pam had been born, along with other relatives. The family lived a simple life, stretching out one loaf of bread and cooking it on an old gas stove — one in the shared bedroom.

Kyah Simon, 11, plays for his club Quakers Hill.(Football Australia)

Betty, Reg, and their children arrived southwest of Sydney. One afternoon, Pam and her younger brother Neil passed by a white man on the street who had hurled insults at them: “black-and-white” and “black-and-white.” Neil fought back, defending himself and his sister. The man attacked, beating the boy until he almost fainted. Pam pulled the man to her brother, punched him and slapped him; the pain and anguish of generations passing through his veins.

Pain also fell on Kyah’s father’s side. Gordon was surrounded by violence as he grew up. He and his cousins ​​sometimes jump over the fence at the Newcastle Show, too poor to buy tickets, and head to Jimmy Sharman’s boxing tent. They were fighting one another and collecting coins dropped on white people.

Gordon’s father and uncle had joined the army during World War II. The people of the First Nations were not considered human beings then; they are still part of the flora and fauna. At the very least, the four young men enlisted to fight for their favorite country – their homeland, which they never left behind.

They all turned to drink when they returned; old wounds buried under modern scars. Gordon remembers seeing his mother with a black eye, remembering pulling out pieces of glass on his father’s watch and removing the blood from his head. She died at the age of 12. Her sister followed a few years later – a drug – leaving two young children.

These were issues that Kyah learned when he was growing up. Pam and Gordon protected her and her three brothers Aaron, Sarah, and Wesley from the realities of their family’s past life. They wanted to wait until their children were older to understand why all of this happened and what it meant.

It was not until 2017, when Kyah Simon was 26 years old, when his mother put him down and told him. which was abandoned.

Kyah Simon (right) directs the ball.Kyah Simon (right) directs the ball.
Kyah Simon (right) has been representing Australia for over a decade.(Photo courtesy of Corey Davis / Getty Images)

He learned about Betty and Reg, about bread, about Neil being beaten to death half for protecting his skin. He learned about Gordon’s father, about Jimmy Sharman’s boxing tent, the military and alcohol and the wristwatch.

Kyah sat quietly, listening as her mother repeated her own story, adding angles and depth to herself. He was always proud, but as he learned more about where he came from – sacrifice, suffering – his pride became something, something powerful, something powerful and guiding.

“[Pride] and what I carried since I was a child, ”Simon told ABC.

“I grew up in the suburbs of western Sydney with my mother and father and three siblings, and what became true for us growing up was that our parents decided it was better to be who you are, to trust yourself, and to be proud of who you are: your skin and your reputation.

“It’s on [am] to this day. My parents were discriminated against, and my younger siblings and I had a good time, but we did not hesitate to identify ourselves and be proud of that.

“I am very proud to be a Native, like the rest of my family. But that does not prevent me from having a hard time in my whole life, the lives of my relatives, the lives of my parents. You have to do it.

Sports, especially football, contributed. Although he grew up in a rugby family, supporting Penrith and Cronulla (who lived near Fifita’s boys), it was the ball that caught him, making him who he is.

“It helped me to show that I am a real person and it made me the person I am today,” he said.

“It’s very exciting in football, to be honest. Because it’s a global game – because there are so many different cultures and countries that play it – when you play football, you have the same attitude as most people.

Kyah Simon is celebrating scoring a goal.Kyah Simon is celebrating scoring a goal.
In 2015, Simon became the first Indian player to score a goal in Australia in a knockout match at the World Cup.(AFP: Elsa / Getty photos)

“Your culture doesn’t fit in like this: people just play because they want to play and you share the same ideas. We all do it because we love the game and it’s fun. There is no discrimination. Think [football] certainly gave it to me.

“Through my game, I have been able to express myself and be proud of who I am. My identity; it is in my blood. I think sports – and football – have really helped me to have the confidence to speak and be free. Pride is to put my heart in my hands and be proud of my culture.”

It is understood that, in a sense, Simon became a professional athlete because of his athleticism, and he has become one of the most powerful platforms in the fight against racism and xenophobia in recent years. This growth, in addition to learning more about his history, has given Simon the confidence to use his words in ways that he may have been reluctant to do in the past.

“For me, there has been a little movement,” he said. “At home and around the world, according to the confession of the people – and apparently the Black Lives Matter group – [there are] more words that do not feel like a few when it comes to such topics.

“Obviously there are some athletes who have opened the way and talked and probably received a lot more,” [like] in the past Adam Goodes is how he adopted. There have been a number of athletes who have taken part in simply being proud of who they are.

“It’s something to be proud of; it’s not a matter of debate. I think half of it is sharing our history, sharing the knowledge we have about the meaning of being Aboriginal.

“Now, with a little help from the social networking site – and with a growing number of people supporting the main causes – it has really helped to change the conversation and open people’s eyes to different ideas, which we have not been able to do. many others. “

One of Simon’s most recent events was at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. In the first team game against New Zealand, instead of kneeling in line with the Black Lives Matter team, as the Ferns of Football did, Matildas did the opposite – something special and important to them. He carried the Aboriginal flag.

The Australian women's soccer team, Matildas, has an Aboriginal flag before their first Tokyo Olympic Games.The Australian women's soccer team, Matildas, has the Aboriginal flag before their first Tokyo Olympic Games.
Matildas expressed their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter team in a way that was unique to them.(AP: Ricardo Mazalan)

“Obviously, as a team, we all support kneeling [and] we are all supporting Black Lives Matter, “he said.” But [with] coming from America, we wanted to do something close to home. So we threw some ideas around. And I thought, ‘What if we carry the Aboriginal flag in front of a team image in our first game?’

“Our biggest inspiration came from Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Olympics 2000. Mine said, in particular, so it felt like [came] complete circulation; that was probably the first time many of us had seen the Aboriginal flag at the Olympic Games before. So I think that was something very powerful.

“It has many meanings, but I think the main thing was that we should just show that we support our people. The flag should be displayed; it is not really displayed at major sporting events unless my family is holding it. In the community. So the whole team was supporting this.

“We now have the Aboriginal flag in the changing room at every game; it just stays in the team now. It started a lot of good conversations – better than bad – after all. they said that was the most important thing in the Games for them. “

Simon, who now plays for Tottenham Hotspur in England, is now embracing his newly acquired voice, joining the founding body of the National Indigenous Advisory Council Football Association to lead football events with First Nations teams. They want to ensure that the pride they are taught to have, the opportunities they are given, and the things they can offer to all who come after them.

Kyah Simon points to a group of people.Kyah Simon points to a group of people.
Kyah Simon hopes to use his platform to inspire and make changes for the next generation of First Nations football players.(Photo courtesy of Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

“Taking part in my involvement with the counselors is a great honor for me, and I think it has been a long time coming,” he said. “It will help make important decisions based on our people and integrate more people into our beautiful sport.

“I know some codes have done a lot of work on the site, and the ball is about to be broken a little bit, but I think it just gives us the best: having a lot of involved players, volunteers, people. In management roles.

“It also provides encouragement for many of our young children across the country to be able to see people who are like them, as I did with Cathy. [Freeman] when I was growing up. That is why I think it will only encourage more Indians to participate in this sport. “

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