Australia faces a battle to secure the long-term allegiances of 15-year-old progidy Mary Fowler.Australia faces a battle to secure the long-term allegiances of 15-year-old football prodigy Mary Fowler and her talented siblings amid strong overtures from Ireland.
Fowler is set to debut for the Matildas after being selected in coach Alen Stajcic’s 21-player squad for next week’s Tournament of Nations in the US.
It should be the start of a long international career for the Cairns-born wonderkid – but whether the Fowler family stays in green and gold remains to be seen.
Born to an Irish father and Papua New Guinean mother, Mary is one of five children and all of them aspire to play professional football.
Brother Quivi, 19, and sister Ciara, 17, have both previously represented Ireland at youth level and were born there but are on Football Federation Australia’s radar.
However, AAP understands the Football Association of Ireland is desperate to lock the Fowler family down and is in regular contact.
“I want to play for Australia, but obviously Ciara and Quivi have played for Ireland,” Mary told AAP.
“And we all want to play together for the same country.
“Family is really important to me, it’s important to all of us.
“I’m not in any rush to make that decision right now, I’m only 15, so we’ll see.”
Playing in the Tournament of Nations won’t tie Mary to Australia as it is essentially a series of glorified friendly matches.
However, the lure of an appearance at next year’s women’s World Cup – for which Ireland have failed to qualify – may swing their decision.
It’s understood several W-League clubs have offered contracts to Mary and Ciara but the pair are considering moving to Europe, where Quivi will be based next season.
Quivi is viewed as a potential Socceroo and has signed for second-tier Dutch club FC Dordrecht, having previously spent time in the youth system of Eredivisie outfit Vitesse.
The 19-year-old attacking midfielder played for Wollongong in the NSW NPL this year and trialled with multiple A-League clubs but was not offered a senior contract.
“He hasn’t played any senior football yet, but the boy’s definitely talented,” FFA head of national teams Luke Casserly told AAP.
“We certainly hope to connect with him and see how he’s going at Dordrecht.
“We’ve got Ante Milicic based overseas now who can easily get around and see him.”
Casserly said FFA would make their pitch to the Fowlers, just as they did to Daniel Arzani as he entertained interest from his birth country Iran.
“We’ve had a number of players who can play for multiple nations, and obviously we go through the same process with everyone – meet with the players, their parents, their family,” he said.
“If it’s a player we’re really interested in, we put our best foot forward as to why we believe Australia is the best place to go.”