Teenage Matilda on mission to be world’s best
MARY Fowler has the world at her feet and she knows it.
The 15-year-old has been named in the Matildas squad for next week's defence of the Tournament of Nations in the US and the Wollongong-based schoolgirl has a laser-like focus on becoming the best player in the world.
"When Dad told me I was really happy," Fowler, who plays for Bankstown City in the NSW NPL, told The Daily Telegraph.
"To be the best in the world I need to be training with the best and playing with the best.
"I am not the baby of the team. I have to be strong mentally. I am going over there to improve myself and pick up information."
Fowler's brother Quivi, 19, is with Dutch second division club FC Dordrecht and her 16-year-old sister Ciara also plays football.
The whole family is dedicated to success in football.
"I've been training for ages and make the sacrifices. I respect hard work. I believe you get what you put into things," Mary said.
"My family have been moving from place to place, country to country.
"We don't have phones, we don't go to parties, we just stay focused on what we have to do."
Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, who also named 16-year-old fellow debutant Amy Sayer in the 20-strong squad to play the US, Brazil and Japan next week, said Fowler had been on his radar for months and made the cut after scoring 10 goals at the recent 2018 AFF Women's Championship in Indonesia.
"She's probably got the most amount of weapons I've seen from a player her age in women's football," Stajcic said.
"Over the last six or seven months we've been tracking Mary and she's shown the ability to find the back of the net.
"Both with her left and right foot, in and around the penalty box, Mary's ability to find space in tight areas is the best I've seen for a young player her age."
Fowler said she was excited at the prospect of meeting and playing against Brazilian superstar Marta, a five-time World Player of the Year, in the US.
"Another thing I am really looking forward to is meeting Marta. She is my idol. I want to see her play and maybe play against her," she said.
Fowler, who grew up in Cairns, has an Irish father and a Papua New Guinean mother and is eligible to represent both Australia and Ireland, a decision she said would be made "as a family" in the future.
Stajcic, who has a policy of "drip-feeding" young talent to the Matildas when possible, said Fowler had been brought in as cover for the injured Caitlin Foord, who would not be given game time in the US.
The Matildas have had enormous success introducing young talent to the team in recent years.
Sydney footballer Ellie Carpenter made her debut at 15 and represented Australia at the Rio Olympic when just 16. She boasts 21 caps at age 18.
Midfielder Alex Chidiac is just 19 and boasts 10 international caps.
The Matildas won last year's Tournament of Nations.
This year's edition should provide invaluable match play a year out from the World Cup in France in 2019.