Kyah Simon has faced her fair share of challenges in the past 12 months, both on and off the field, but the Matildas star is upbeat as she chases a club title in the Netherlands and readies herself for the Tokyo Olympics.
Simon joined PSV last year and this season the Dutch club is in a tight battle for the Eredivisie Vrouwen with rivals FC Twente.
The striker admits her time in Europe has been difficult for a number of reasons, but she is enjoying her time with the red and whites.
“To be honest it's been a bit of a turbulent season with a lot of things going on, with COVID, with a change of coach towards the end of last year and then I had surgery in January on an ankle thing, which kind of came out of nowhere,” she told The World Game.
“I felt the pain in my ankle, it was a bit posterior impingement, which was causing me a lot of grief. I tried a couple of cortisones, they didn’t do the trick so I saw the ankle specialist and he said it’s best to go in for a quick clean-up.
“That was in March and I’m back with the team now, back full training, so it’s definitely been a turbulent season. It’s not the usual season I would have liked to have had but I’ve still been enjoying it.
“PSV are a great club, they’re so professional, the facilities that we have are world-class. We’ve got a really great group of girls and Rick the new coach is great, he brings really good energy.
“I’m enjoying living in Eindhoven as well. It’s really nice to be here and immersed in that European football culture, which I’ve never experienced before.”
Simon arrived at PSV after spending a year in the USA with Houston Dash. The Dutch giant is aiming to defend the title it won in 2019-2020 and is currently locked in a dogfight with Twente.
With less than two weeks left, only one point currently separates league leaders the Tikkers and PSV.
“Twente are one point ahead of us but we face off against them in a couple of weeks, so that will be pretty much be the decider for the finals,” Simon explained.
“So it’s exciting, it should be a really good game. They’re always a tough opponent when we face them, so we’re nipping at their heels to take those final few points to win the title.”
Simon, a veteran of the Matildas squad since 2007, missed the recent Australia friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands through injury. She admits watching on the sidelines last month was tough.
“I guess it was even more difficult because I was here in the Netherlands and so close, yet couldn’t be a part of it,” she said.
“I miss the girls and I miss the team so much, it’s been so long since we’ve been back as a team. But missing out on that and watching them… I would have much preferred to be out there and playing with them. I’m really excited to get back in in the next FIFA window.”
The Matildas were beaten 5-2 by the Germans and then flogged 5-0 by the Dutch. Many were shocked by the size of the one-sided scorelines, but Simon believes there are plenty of reasons to explain the two results.
“I’m not usually one to make excuses, but I definitely think there were a lot of factors working against us,” the 29-year-old said.
“It was going to be a tough challenge, but at the same time it was a really good opportunity to see where we’re at, and also for players who haven’t played for the Matildas before, or haven’t had international experience or exposure.
"It was a really good experience for them to see where the top teams are at, especially leading into the Olympics.
“We have to be playing games to see where we’re at. It was tough because we weren’t in the best circumstance as a team, as a whole. The girls only getting a few days with Tony before the game – having a new coach is a challenge on its own. But that’s fine because we have to go through that point at some stage.
“It was tough because I knew all the battles the girls had gone through and the things that were stacked against us. But at the same time you learn as much from your losses, and your bad losses, from sometimes your good wins, so it was a really good learning curve for us and we will be in a much better position next FIFA window.”
The Australian team will head to Japan in July to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. The Matildas have been handed a difficult draw after being grouped with the United States, Sweden and New Zealand, but the forward is excited about what lays ahead.
“Tokyo’s coming up quick and fast,” Simon said. “It’s a bit of a weird one as I haven’t seen the girls in the past year, so that first camp getting back in will be really nice. Definitely looking forward to it, it’s an Olympic Games, it’s a huge moment in sport and especially in football.
“I can’t wait for it to come up. The Olympics Games compared to the World Cup, you’re always going to have a higher quality of teams and be faced with tougher teams in an earlier phase, due to the number of teams.
“Every team at the Olympic Games is a quality side and I think it’s going to be challenging each game. If you want to win things you have to beat the best teams, and that doesn’t matter if it's game one or game six, you have to be faced with them sooner or later.
“So we take it in our stride, we focus on ourselves and as we approach each opponent and each team we’ll look at them in more detail. It is what it is, we just have to focus on ourselves and get ourselves in the best mindset.
“But also give ourselves the best preparation so going into the tournament we hit the ground running.”