Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams goes 1v1 with the PFA to discuss the past 12 months. The highs of the World Cup, the battle for fair pay and her ambitions for the game following her appointment to the PFA Executive Committee.

Q. With the eyes of most players starting to turn onto the 2015 World Cup, you suffered a serious knee injury. Did you believe all along you would make it back in time?

LW: When I did my knee over in the States (USA) I was sitting on the bench crying. I rang up the Doctor and Physio for the Matildas and Staj (Alen Stajic, Matildas Head Coach), asking how quickly I could get home to have surgery. They just told me to ‘get on a flight we will get you back, don’t worry it will be fine, here are the plans to get you back for the World Cup.’ I think having that chat with them really helped, but personally I always knew I could do it. The real driving force came with coming into camp and being round the group of the girls and the staff. That made me even more determined to get back.


Q. The build up for the team was a tough one, with you in camp for almost six months. How did this compare to the build up for previous tournaments?

LW: A lot of the pressure was being in the group of death. Football has come such a long way, where you do so many video sessions and you have to analyze your opponent in real depth. We had to put a lot of work into how we wanted to play and Staj hadn’t had a lot of time to work with us. A lot of the build up was getting our belief in how we were going to play.

It was really intense and everybody was really excited because the World Cup was only six months away. We were a little behind. We were meant to be going to the US to have a camp but once we drew them in our group, it was decided that was not the way to go. It was a tough build up but we were so focused on what we were going to achieve and we knew it was going to worth it.


Q. After all the hard work to get back fit, how difficult was it to miss the first match versus the USA due to injury

LW: It was a bit of a blow. Leading into the US game it would have been really special, being part American myself, and playing against them. I had support from the medical staff, my roommate was very patient with me, I was icing all the time. It was difficult not being on the field but I was really excited for the team and the way we performed was phenomenal.


Q. For most the game against Brazil appeared to be a daunting one, but it didn’t seem like that for you or your teammates.

LW: I think the game against the US was probably the most hyped-up game and our first half performance against the US proved that we could compete with the best. The game against Brazil we knew we could win and we did not slide from the game plan and we were really positive. We were not afraid of Brazil or what we were going to face.


Q. How difficult was the result against Japan to take after having such high hopes going into the match?

LW: For us we know Japan so well and the last few times it has been a game that can go either way. We played four really tough games leading up to that game and we knew if we could get a win we would have gone to the final. That was our belief and our belief at the beginning was we could win the World Cup. You could feel the heart break around the team as the match against Japan unfolded.


Q. After the World Cup did it sink-in just how much you had achieved?

LW: After it we got the feedback from home about how much the public took to us I think it did. Coming into the Japan game we had Channel 7 come and film us, and it was the first time we had someone outside SBS or ABC do that. So we knew we were making some pretty big news back home. We didn’t want to get overwhelmed with all the media that was at home so we only got bits and pieces and it wasn’t until we came back that we realised how much of an impact we had.


Q. You returned from the World Cup and almost straight into an industrial dispute; did this come as shock?

LW: The CBA had been a bit on the back burner for us due to the World Cup. From the discussions early on we hoped it would all flow naturally and we would reach an agreement quite comfortably. It become clear that wasn’t going to be the case. It was a very hectic time and we had to jump right into it.


Q. You stuck together during the dispute; how did you manage to stay so strong?

LW: It was the right time to make stand and we knew things needed to change and that change was in the best interests of the players and the game.


Q. The new CBA saw the players make significant progress; how important is it to build on this?

LW: We are driven to create a real pathway. We want the best young female players wanting to be Matildas and to do that we need to have an attractive career path. We have made headway but there is more to do.


Q. How big is the potential of the current Matildas sqauad?

LW: In this group we have, the average age is 22 or 23 so they are very young. I have been around for a while and this is the most talented group I have been a part off. The game has changed a lot and it’s a lot more physical and I think the team we have possesses both the technical and physical attributes to the be the best. The group can go all the way. We believed that for the last World Cup and we believe it for the next one and for the Olympics.


Q. What was the motivation behind wanting to take up a role on the PFA Executive Committee?

LW: With the dispute my phone bill was the highest it has ever been, because I was in constant contact with the PFA and the girls. I think to grow the game we need to have a driving force and players can be that driving force. It will not change how I approach things, everything is always going to be a discussion with all our members and I will be looking to help all players and to make decisions that are in the best interests of the game.


Q. Finally, what are the key issues that need to be addressed to take the game forward?

LW: Media and marketing needs to be improved for the women’s game. We want to generate more revenue and we are happy to play our part. We need to convert football fans into fans of the W-League. We have made progress but we have a lot more to do.


Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a current or former player to gain an insight into the lives of footballers on an off the pitch.

Image by Chad Gibson / Local FC.