The private world of Mary Fowler


“I think it’s all made me enjoy my private things even more. Having to do a lot of media and getting to see fans, it’s so different to what it was like a year ago.

“From a personal point of view, I’ve tried to connect with myself a lot more. I tell myself, ‘These are the people’s opinions that I really care about’.

Mary Fowler: In her element. Credit: Kate Geraghty

“And I tell myself, ‘Decide who you want to be’, rather than reading too much about what other people want me to be.

“That’s been a personal little bump to get over. But I always try to see the other side of it, too.

“There’s so many people supporting us, following us, that just wouldn’t have happened a few years ago. It’s quite amazing to see and that’s a credit to the girls, being able to play so well when there wasn’t always the opportunities that a player like me has now.”

Questions about Cleary are off limits. So, too, Tony Gustavsson’s future or next year’s Olympics, apparently at the request of Matildas management.

“Seeing the kids today, it’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel more whole as a person.”

Thing is, Fowler can surely handle them on her ear. A self-described “old soul” at 20, the Manchester City forward strikes as especially comfortable in her skin for someone so recently still a teenager.

Rise & Shine might put a particular focus on science – and the problem-solving in maths made it Fowler’s favourite subject at school – but it’s artistic pursuits that keep her particularly grounded.

“I haven’t painted in a while, but being able to connect to myself in a different way that’s helped me – whether it’s painting, drawing or journaling – it’s something that just gets my mind off everything else that’s going on,” she says.

“One thing I remember a lot was doing a lot of dress-ups and acting stuff. Doing some little shows for my parents. From a young age, I just really enjoyed being creative and being a bit wild and different in that sense.

Mary Fowler’s World Cup campaign shot her to a stardom she’d never dreamed of.

Mary Fowler’s World Cup campaign shot her to a stardom she’d never dreamed of.Credit: Getty Images

“And I would say with the creative side, I do try to be a creative footballer. And I’m just being myself out there, even if that means being a bit different.

“Even if not everyone likes me, I think if one person looks and thinks, ‘She’s a bit like me’, the more real and true to myself I can be, the more it could help other people.”

Fowler revels in the anonymity she’s still afforded in Manchester, catching the tram to and from training because, “It makes me feel like a normal 20-year-old. I’m no different from the girl next to me on the tram.”

She admits the famed nightlife in ‘Madchester’ might be a tad wasted on her.

“I’d much rather quality time than going out,” she says.

But with jazz, soul and “if I want to get into a happy mood, ’80s” occupying her Spotify playlists, there’s a promise to make better use of the historic soundscape she’s landed in.

Meantime, Christmas with her family in flood-ravaged Cairns and a rare break awaits, before a return to Manchester, Olympic qualifiers against Uzbekistan in February and then said Paris Olympics in July.

The spotlight won’t be dimming any time soon, or potentially for the next decade.

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“But it is a privilege to be in the position I’m in,” Fowler says. “To have opportunities like this to give back to the community and seeing the kids today, it’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel more whole as a person, being able to do this off the field.

“Being part of something that’s more than football, that’s amazing. And I’ve learnt how to make tabouli – highlight of the day.”

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