Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Meet girlswithgame's very first woman in Australian sport - Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams

My name is... Lydia Williams and I was born on May 13th 1988 in Katanning, WA.
I play... football for Canberra United and the Matildas.
I grew up in... Kalgoorlie, WA. Gold mining capital of Australia!!
I believe... that you need to have fun and enjoy the game, the success follows.
When did you first start playing football? I started playing when i was 8 years old for my school team on the field mostly
Did you play any other sports when you were growing up? I played T-Ball, Basketball, Futsal, Gymnastics and did Little Athletics.
Why did you decide to stick with football? I thought out of all those sports I was the best at football and I felt that football was alot bigger and you could progress alot more through the sport than the other ones I did.
And tell us the story of how you became a goalkeeper... My mum wanted me to join a team to make friends when we moved from Kalgoorlie to Canberra and the only position left was a goalkeeper. So I played there and saved a penalty during one of the games and the coach wouldn't let me out of goals from then on and now I love it!!
What's the best memory of your junior career? Saving a penalty during the Kanga Cup [Ed's note, biggest junior football tournament in the southern hemsiphere, take a look at ] against our biggest rival club.
What do you remember about your Matildas debut? It was in Asia, my first ever tour and I was 16 years old. I was so nervous because there was quite a big crowd there from what i was use to in Canberra and I made one mistake but then straight after that I made three really good saves.
What's your most memorable Matildas moment? On and off the pitch? On the pitch would have to be at the World Cup progessing to the Quarter Finals and also Qualifying for the World Cup in Adelaide - they go hand in hand!!
Off the pitch is just spending time with the girls and having fun, it's always memorable with them - although there was a time in America when myself, Sally [Shipard] and a few others pranked the other older girls over the phone with a scary voice, needless to say the scary, mystery phone calls were all they could talk about the next morning but when we told them it was us they didnt speak to us for nearly 6 hours...
Canberra United, your team in the new Australian W-League, made the inaugural grand final, tell us a bit about the season....
It was a fairly tough season, we had to deal with the fact that in our whole season we never had a training session with all the girls and that were all fit. I always thought we had an outside chance of making the finals which i think not alot of other people thought we could do. All the girls got along together and had a good time so i think that helped with our success because we bonded on and off the field which helped with our results during the season.
What's the best thing about being a girl that plays football? It keeps you fit and healthy. I think that being a girl also and the game not being professional lets us make strong friendships within the game and we're able to have a bit more fun because we mostly play the game because we love it rather than making money from it or media attention.
Who are your role-models and favourite players? I liked watching Peter Schmeichel when he was playing for Manchester United and now Petr Čech from Chelsea is good to watch. Growing up I loved watching highlights of Pele and the Brazilian players because some of the things they do are crazy!! My role models though are the girls in the Matildas, I grew up playing with Cheryl [Salisbury], Joey [Peters], Di [Alagich]. Now that they are retired makes me realise how lucky I am to have played with such amazing footballers.
You are on the verge of becoming a professional footballer, about to head off and trial with the Chicago Red Stars in the new American women's league, when did you start to think you might be able to earn a career playing football? I haven't ever really thought until later on in my career that I would like to make a professional career out of football. Only very recently when Tom [Sermanni, Matildas coach] gave the Matildas the go ahead to go overseas that I thought maybe i can make a professional living out of playing football.
BEHIND THE BALL - How it all comes together
Do you have a special routine you go through on match day? I just relax during the day saving my energy and focusing on the game. I usually go for a walk sometime before we leave for the game and for my pre-match meal I always got to have peanut butter and jam on bread!
What kind of food to you eat when you are leading up to a match, how important is food and sports drinks during a tournament? Well breakfast is just what I would normally eat on any day but my pre-match has to be peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Having a pre-match is very important because usually when we play a game we won't have another meal for over 5 hours so to make sure you have got something in your stomach is important so you have enough energy to run around when you play.
What's your fitness and training regime like? How much and what type of things do you do? I train nearly 6 times a week from weights, to field sessions with the team, to individual goalkeeping sessions. So it's pretty full on training but i'm used to it and I love it.
What's your best fitness tip for aspiring goalkeepers? With goalkeeping we don't need a lot of cardio fitness but we need to be fit for short and sharp movements like sprints. It helps if a goalkeeper is fit like a field player but it is more important to be fit like a sprinter. A lot of sprint work, up and down movements and footwork are the go.
What's the best drill you can do to improve your goalkeeping? Just a lot of handling, the important and different thing about our position is that we get to use our hands so you got to make sure that you can actually catch a ball and hold onto it. If you do a drill where you can do some footwork then at the end of it catch a ball, that's always a good starting point.
What about gear tips, anything particular to look for when choosing boots, shinpads and gloves? Boots have got to be comfy and you feel like they suit your foot. Shinpads are very individual, i have small shinpads because I don't like big, chunky ones whereas some people like the big, chunky ones. Gloves have to be the most important ones, they need to be an extension of your hands so you can't get dodgy ones because if you screw up in the game it dosn't matter about the glove. I get gloves that are pretty much my hands, the fingers fit very snuggly to my hands so it feels like i'm not wearing gloves at all.
Have you ever had a serious injury? Any tips for preventing injuries? My most serious injury is that I broke my wrist. I was training and someone let fly a really powerful shot and I saved it which caused a bone in my wrist to become fractured. I had to be in a cast for 6 weeks but that didn't heal the bone so I have to get an operation on it and I was out of competition for 3 months. My rehab was good though because I was in a splint and could do exercises regularly which sped up the length of time I couldn't train for. When it comes to injuries most of the time they're preventable, sometimes there not like a break or ACL but if you stretch right and warm up properly that should prevent a lot of unnecessary injuries from occuring.

Do you wear lip-balm, sunscreen or zinc while you are playing? If it's hot, like usually in Asia, I will wear sunscreen or zinc. When you sweat usually the sunscreen on your forehead gets into your eyes which isn't very pleasent.
Any tips from going straight from a game to after match function, or is a shower the only option to getting decent again? You got to make sure you got a change of underwear and bra!!! A quick shower is always a good option too, most of the time we have a few extra minutes to have a shower and to get changed. Also have deodorant and perfume on hand.
What's your favourite music for getting pumped up and chilling out? I'll listen to my own mix of songs when we travel to the field then once we get settled in the change room the speakers will be blasting songs we can sing along to, Aussie songs, Ministry of Sound and anything else we like.
Favourite movies and TV shows? So you think you can dance, Ugly Betty, Kath & Kim are some of my favourite TV shows. Step Brothers, Elf, Crash, Taken are a few of my favourite movies.
Outside of football you are training to be a zoo-keeper, what's scarier, dealing with a lion or having an American striker coming at you? Definitely dealing with a lion, animals are unpredictable and if you make a wrong move then you might not be alive to tell the tale, whereas an American striker coming towards me doesn't frighten me as much because I figure i'm stupid and crazy enough to put my body on the line to save a shot. I'm not that crazy when it comes to animals. I don't fear for my life if I make a mistake in football!!
What sort of things have you done in your job at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra and at your training course at Taronga Park Zoo. I do alot of public presentations and tours with my job at the zoo, so everytime i'm there I deal with people, the animals and myself which is pretty difficult because its the hardest combination to look after while doing the job. I've got to feed most of the animals and deal with them in one way or another at the zoo, it's definitely something I would love to keep doing in the future. I'm lucky that the zoo has been great with me being away and has allowed me to take a course which in the future will further my animal and zookeeping knowledge.
Apart from football, what other sports do you watch? Do you support any A-League, AFL, NRL, Super-14, NBL, WNBL, Cricket etc teams? I love supporting Australian sporting teams so anytime a cricket match, NBL, WNBL or football match is on I try to watch it. But I do like to keep in the loop with how the A-League teams are going and also the EPL on SBS.
Are there any products you think would sell like hot-cakes if they invented them for female footballers? I think maybe a slimmer glove for women footballers, the problem with gloves is that there for men so they generally tend to hand bigger and wider hands so if a slim glove design came out that was decent I think that they would be popular.
Do you have a motto that you live by? You only live once!!

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