Mary Fowler ready to make her mark in debut W-League season

New sensation: Fowler in her Adelaide United colours.

Fowler is nearly 10 years younger than Kerr but there are eerie similarities between them. Like Kerr, she is a player who was born with a knack for scoring goals. She got her first taste of international football at the same age, and went to a World Cup before she was legally able to vote.

Five other clubs wanted to sign Fowler this season, but the Reds trumped half the competition by making a pitch around “family values” that appealed to her and her elder sister, Ciara, 18, who will line up in coach Ivan Karlovic’s midfield.

“We got a good feeling about [Karlovic],” Fowler said. “And then just in general, people had said that Adelaide was a nice place, the people were nice, and with the beaches it just seemed like a good fit for us.”

Karlovic knows he has a special player on his hands – one who, last year, boldly declared she wanted to become the best player in the world. Because of her international commitments, Fowler has been dipping in and out of Adelaide’s pre-season campaign, but what Karlovic has seen tells him the hype is completely justified.

“She has a maturity beyond her years. And she certainly doesn’t play like a 16-year-old,” Karlovic said.

“It’s been a long time since you’ve seen a player possess such natural striker instincts. It’s very rare that you see that sort of quality. It’s something that’s very difficult to teach, and she’s got that – at a young age.

“My responsibility is to help guide her. It’s probably a situation that not many players, if any, have found themselves in.

The Fowler clan (back, from left): Ciara, Kevin, Seamus, (front) Nido, Quivi and Louise with Mary's Matildas jersey.

The Fowler clan (back, from left): Ciara, Kevin, Seamus, (front) Nido, Quivi and Louise with Mary’s Matildas jersey.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

“For me, it’s important Mary enjoys her football and doesn’t put any added pressure on herself. We’ll make sure that she does and plays with the natural flair that has given her success and put her in the position she’s in now.”

The PFA last month released a study into the ‘Golden Generation’ that examined the pillars that underpin the development of world-class players. It concluded that an “immersive culture” was the key – a deep emotional connection between the player and the sport at the earliest possible age, a love for unstructured and informal play, a supportive family, and a burning desire to get better.

The Fowlers tick every box. A family of five siblings, they are all utterly obsessed with football, practise and play together whenever and wherever they can, and are determined to maximise their potential, individually and collectively. Mary’s stellar rise is a consequence of their habits.

“It’s one of the things that’s gone amiss, really, in youth development – the biggest factor,” Karlovic said.

World at her feet: Fowler has exceptional potential, and shapes as Australia's best striker since Sam Kerr.

World at her feet: Fowler has exceptional potential, and shapes as Australia’s best striker since Sam Kerr.Credit:Wolter Peeters

“It’s not just about what you do on the training track – it’s also what you’re doing outside and Mary and Ciara have both done a lot of work outside of their normal sessions to be able to develop to this level they’re at. For us, the most important thing is to integrate that now within the playing group.”


Fowler is so sharply focused on what’s ahead of her, she did not want to discuss anything in the rear-view mirror, including her experience at the World Cup in France, where her chances of playing were cruelled by a hamstring injury, or the recent AFC U-19 Championships in Thailand, where she scored four of Australia’s six goals for the tournament.

The Young Matildas failed to qualify for next year’s U-20 World Cup but Fowler was a clear standout, and fresh from those exploits, she sounds ready to take the W-League by storm.

“I’m a goal-scorer. I’m the striker in the team obviously, so I expect to be scoring a lot of goals,” said Fowler, who will wear the No.9 jersey for Adelaide.

“That’s my job, and I want to do it well. I’m very eager to perform to my own standards and expectations and ultimately bring success to the team. I just want to get my career started.”

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