With an established football career, including four FIFA Women’s World Cup squads and over 80 games with the Westfield Matildas, Lydia Williams has added the title of author to her list of accomplishments.
Saved!!! is a book about a little girl also called Lydia, who lives in the outback and discovers her love for football. Sounds familiar?
That's because this semi-autobiographical book is a story of how Westfield Matildas goalkeeper Williams found her passion and demonstrates how football can create opportunities and community.
The idea to write the book came about quickly but once it took root, Williams’ was full invested in the project.
“I got super excited that a lot of my own story was being used and told in a creative way,” she told matildas.com.au
“It’s something really special to me because my childhood was definitely unique.”
The task of bringing Little Lydia to life fell to illustrator Lucinda Gifford. For Williams', it was an eye opening experience.
"I loved the illustrations though! That really brought Saved!!! to life," she exclaimed.
"Lucinda was great. Within a week or two of the story being written she created drafts of Little Lydia."
“Throughout the whole process there was a lot of dialogue in regard to facial expressions, movement and colour within the illustrations.”
Williams spent much of her childhood in remote regions across the Gibson desert in Western Australia, where her parents worked as missionaries with Indigenous communities.
It is certainly a story worth telling and the transition from the pitch for the pen was one that came naturally for the Westfield Matildas custodian.
The writing process was surprisingly easy to have a story and outline, mostly because it was already in my head.”
"The hardest part I would say was creating the dialogue."
Despite the almost effortless process of writing Saved!!!, publishing the book made every worthwhile.
“It was incredible seeing Saved!!! in real life. It brought tears to my eyes,” she said.
“Throughout the whole process we made sure that whatever was going to be printed was going to something I completely loved and was proud of.”
“To see it being used in schools and brought to games to be signed really makes me so proud of everyone involved in the process.”
The 31-year-old has gone from playing sport out in the desert to pulling on her gloves in stadiums around the world - something Little Lydia could only have dreamed of.
With a 15-year career spanning across Australia, Europe and the United States, Williams’ wanted to encourage young children to follow their dreams just as she had. Judging by the response she receives at games and readings, the book is certainly doing just that.
“Saved!!! is a book about self-belief, perseverance and sport,” she said.
“I would love for kids to be inspired that they can do anything they put their mind too and as long as they enjoy something to keep on doing it.”
The story of Saved!!! is not just a sport about sport, it is also one that has many important lessons and Williams believes that having women tell their stories can reach all parts of the community.
There’s so many amazing women overcoming hardships or having interesting backgrounds. It really does inspire the everyday person.”
Saved!!! is available for purchase here.