Matilda's goalkeeper Lydia Williams says representing her indigenous heritage at the 2016 Rio Olympic games was a dream come true and meeting her childhood hero Cathy Freeman made her speechless.
Along with her teammate Kyah Simon, Lydia Williams has always been a proud exponent of her Aboriginal culture and both players followed in the footsteps of Australian athletic legend Freeman when they competed in Brazil.
After the Matildas were knocked out of the women’s football tournament Williams got the opportunity to meet her idol and the 28-year-old says representing her community at the Olympics was an honour.
“It’s everything that I dreamed of,” she said. “I’ve been watching the Olympics since before I was playing football, so for me being an Olympian was such an incredible thing. I actually met Cathy Freeman and I was pretty much speechless which I don’t think I’ve ever been in my life.
“To represent both my country and my culture is a pretty special thing and I’m proud of myself and proud of the girls. Obviously Kyah is as well, it’s a pretty special moment. The time to reflect on it will be after this - which I haven’t really reached yet. I’m definitely proud of the impact I’ve had on the Australian team and the people back home and my family. “
The Matildas were so close to playing off for a medal but lost on penalties to the host country and Williams says she was blown away by how the Brazilian crowd supported their team and the Australians.
“It was one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve ever had,” she said. “When the Brazilian anthem was going on and the whole crowd stopped and sung with them. Just reflecting on a moment in women’s sport - it was incredible to see a country get behind their women’s team
“I had great respect for the crowd they applauded us after the fantastic effort that we put in and the girls have nothing to feel anything except but proud because we took it to them and it could’ve gone either way at the end.”
The Aussies led eventual gold medallists Germany 2-0 in their second group game before it finished in a 2-2 draw and coupled with the result against Brazil, Williams says exciting times lie ahead.
“This team can achieve anything,” she said. “To have the support and the backing of friends and family back home and the fans and the footballing people that’s incredible. It’s only going to grow the game even more and we are really excited for it.
“This team is still quite young, our average is still 24 and in another four years it’s going to be 28. For us it could’ve been anything can happen with the penalty. We proved that we can compete with anyone in the world and we were just so close but we are really excited to see what we can bring in the future.”