Paris 2024: Mary Fowler will bring more to Matildas than in Tokyo

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Matildas superstar Mary Fowler says she feels more part of the team and in a far better position to contribute to a medal tilt in Paris than at her first Olympic Games.

Fowler, who at only 18 was one of Australia’s youngest Olympians in Tokyo, said she felt “lucky” to have made that squad but this time was determined to showcase all of her ability at the tournament.

Speaking ahead of the Matildas’ important friendly against Mexico on Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas, Fowler said she was a more mature player armed with more self-belief than three years ago.

Fowler credited her difficult start to the WSL season with Manchester City for some of that growth, as she said there were benefits to a prolonged stint coming off the bench.

Now back in City’s starting line-up after struggling for minutes in the lead-up to the Matildas’ Olympic qualifiers, Fowler said the period had reinforced her high training standards and the belief she could perform whenever called upon.

“I think for me what was important was in the trainings even at club, I always tried to bring my best to that, and I always felt like even if I wasn’t playing, I was deserving of it, and I was still able to be at that level (off the bench) because I wasn’t any ‘less’ than the players that were starting,” Fowler said.

“The belief in myself was still very much there, so coming into the national team I still thought very positively about myself and about my abilities on the field, so when I got the chance to be on field playing again, it seemed like nothing had really changed.

“I was just training like how I would play, so I didn’t feel like I needed any luck out there, it was just building on that consistency.”

Fowler said she was enjoying living in Manchester and playing with a “very nice team” and was pleased by the balance she had struck between football and her life outside the game.

“Obviously, it’s been a change for me not being able to play as much as I’d probably hoped for, but I think that’s part of it,” she said.

“That’s football, and to see how that’s kind of shaped me as a person has been nice.

“I’ve just really enjoyed being there, and I think I have become a better player from joining that club and now I have the chance to be starting for them and playing, and I do see how much more prepared and mature I am as a player right now than I was compared to last season.”

Fowler said she was equally excited about playing in Paris as she was in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics but this time felt less like a tourist and more like a player ready to leave a major impact on the tournament.

“I think I’m just as excited, but I feel like I can bring more to the team this time. I feel like I’ve had the chance to show my inner value and qualities to the team over the last few years more so than I did before the last Olympics,” she said.

“I think that’s what fuels my belief in myself that this time around I can bring a lot more to the team than I was able to last time.

“The last Olympics, I just felt really lucky to be there … I didn’t really see myself as a player that would be able to bring heaps to the team.

“If I sat on the bench for all of it and got one minute, I’d still be super happy, you know. I think I can have a bit more of an impact this time round.”