Doco shines spotlight on Westfiled Matildas

No Apologies is a documentary about Westfield Matildas Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon, two very different players of indigenous background who have represented their country at the highest level.

When the Westfield Matildas reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 FIFA Women-s World Cup, it was yet another sign of just how far the women-s game has come in this country.

And it-s also worth noting that this tournament was the first time any Australian national football team included two indigenous players, in goalkeeper Lydia Williams and striker Kyah Simon.

Freelance journalist and filmmaker Ashley Morrison followed the team on their journey to Germany, and spoke to both Williams and Simon about their backgrounds and how football allowed two very different people from different sides of Australia to represent their country at the highest level.

The result is No Apologies, a documentary about the two players and their very different journeys to the Westfield Matildas.

“I did a documentary at the 2010 World Cup where we travelled through Africa seeing if it would unite a continent,” Morrison says, “and when I got back to Australia someone asked if I-d ever considered doing something on the women-s game on the Matildas.

“I didn-t want to do a fly-on-the-wall as that-s been done, and had to find the story, so I was looking at the team and realised there were two Aboriginal girls in the squad.

“I initially thought they would be the first Aboriginal women to play in the World Cup but of course Bridgette Starr played in 1999 - but it-s pretty unique to have two Aboriginal girls would be playing at the World Cup at the same time and I wanted to tell their story.”

Their stories, as Morrison found, were as individual as their roles on the pitch.

“When I spoke to them, we found out they were completely different; Kyah grew up in Sydney and Lydia grew up in the country in WA, from either side of the country with very different childhoods; one was a striker one was a goalkeeper, one dreamed of playing for Australia from age 8, the other didn-t even know you could play for Australia.

"Here were two completely different people from very different aboriginal upbringings and yet brought together through football.”

The film has already been screened on pay TV and at film festival across the country to positive reactions from the indigenous and football communities, and is set to be aired on SBS as part of NAIDOC week.

“It-s very humbling,” Morrison says. “The indigenous community have been great. We had the launch in Sydney and 50 per cent of the people who came were from an indigenous background, we had Warren Mundine and John Moriarty and others, and a lot were in tears.

“They thought it was a very good representation that life isn-t easy for indigenous people but that they can overcome and can excel. The fact they want to be part of NAIDOC weeks shows we told the story in a way they were happy with and in a way that reflects their people properly.

“Football fans say it-s a great story - it does tug at the heartstrings a little bit and I haven-t had any negative comments, which is a good sign.”

No Apologies will be shown on SBS 1 at 4pm, Sunday, 1 July as part of NAIDOC week.