Home World Cup can inspire a generation, Simon says

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Just as the Sydney 2000 Olympics sparked the desire and motivation to pursue her own sporting goals, Matilda Kyah Simon feels the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup can inspire a generation of youngsters across Australia.

Simon was a nine-year-old watching the Olympics from her family home in Blacktown when Cathy Freeman's 400m gold-medal win lit the fuse of her ambition to become a top athlete.

Two decades on, Simon can see a similar opportunity for a World Cup on home soil to deliver unforgettable moments for girls across the country.

"They'll be able to watch live, see us in the flesh and see the best female footballers from around the world all in the one place," Simon said.

"It's going to be a spectacular event, I can feel it already, and if it's anything like the Sydney Olympics we're in for a really great experience and event.

"It's exciting times and I'm really, really excited to see what then comes from that five-10 years down the track, and how many more young female footballers there are playing and representing the green and gold."

Simon says she can vividly remember the impact Freeman's run had on her younger self, especially as a proud Aboriginal woman.

After a successful football career that has taken her around the world, with World Cups and Olympics among her 92 appearances for Australia, she is thrilled to be in the position to become the inspiration herself.

Simon is one of 14 athlete ambassadors named as part of the Australian Institute of Sport's Share a Yarn program and it is a role she has taken on with relish.

"I'm really hoping in my role now as a current Matilda playing in Olympics and World Cups that I can have that same impact on so many young girls around the world and especially within Australia," she said.

"I can still feel that feeling of watching Cathy run and the effect that had on me so if I can have half of that effect on any young girl within Australia then I'll be really proud of that.

"Hopefully that spurs them along to follow their dreams."

Source AAP