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Karen Menzies - Soccer Player

Karen Menzies

Karen Menzies was the first Aboriginal Australian to play for the Australian women’s soccer squad, the Matildas, playing for 6 years from 1983. Karen Menzies was forcibly removed from her mother when she was an 8-month-old infant and made a Ward of the (NSW) State.

Karen went into foster care with Anglo-Scottish Australians who treated her well. However, her love for playing soccer with her foster brother and other boys was actively discouraged by school teachers, even punished.

Monitored by the NSW welfare authorities at home, Karen was suddenly removed, because of truancy, from her foster parents—who didn’t even have an opportunity to say goodbye—and put into an institution in Glebe for wards of the state and children who had committed criminal offences.After 2 months, Karen was transferred to a 2nd institution, the King Edward Home in Newcastle, NSW. Here, there were only 15 girls, all wards of the state without criminal convictions, along with houseparents and onsite youth workers. The staff at King Edward Home were “wonderful” and encouraged girls to participate in sport. Karen was dropped off at the local soccer club the same afternoon she arrived. Karen’s soccer career took off while she was living in King Edward Home; she was chosen to play in the NSW state soccer team when she was just 14. At 21, she made it to the national team.

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