Aussie prodigy Fowler eyes World Cup minutes

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Mary Fowler has always had talent but even she concedes she might be ahead of schedule after making the Matildas’ squad for next month’s World Cup.

The 16-year-old forward will become Australia’s youngest player at a World Cup if she can convince coach Ante Milicic to give her some game time.

In one of her first interviews since bursting onto the scene last year when she debuted for the Matildas as a precocious 15-year-old, Fowler shows the same confidence with her words that she does on the field.

“I did know in the back of my head that I was going to make it happen,” she said. “But no I couldn’t have — I wouldn’t have — predicted I was going to the World Cup right now. It’s an amazing opportunity for me.”

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Equally, the opportunity might be Australia’s.

Fowler has shown plenty in four cameo appearances for the national team; particularly when first called up by previous coach Alen Stajcic.

Fowler replaced the oldest member of the World Cup squad, Lisa De Vanna, and dazzled against leading nations France and England in friendly outings last year.

A reported bust-up with Matildas officials might have seen Fowler and her tight-knit family explore other options for her footballing future, but whatever the case, Fowler says she’s all-in on Australia now.

“It’s no secret that I could have represented Ireland. I could have represented Papua New Guinea as well,” she said.

“I was born in Cairns. As my father said, my family are proud Australians.

“Now that I’m in the Matildas squad for the World Cup, my goal is to get on the pitch. If I do, I’ll be tied to Australia and that’s all I’m aiming for.

“Then I want to score a goal. That’s my job in the team. That’s the aim.”

Fowler faces stiff competition to play in France.

The Matildas’ forward line is the side’s biggest strength, where Sam Kerr, Hayley Raso, Caitlin Foord, Emily Gielnik, De Vanna and Fowler will fight for places.

With such talent, you might think Fowler has idolised one of those players on her journey to the national team. Not so.

“When I started playing football my number one idol was my brother Quivi,” she said. “He’s the one that got me into football.

“I also look up to Ronaldo and Pele [but] having my brother next to me training every day was the best ever because I had my role model next to me the whole time.”

While Fowler will have plenty to do in training, she’ll also be working after hours with the same obligation as any 16-year-old; homework.

“School is very important for me … I enjoy it. I will definitely be bringing schoolwork with me,” she said. “Maths is my favourite subject. I love it.”

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