Culture / People

To celebrate Mary Fowler’s birthday, we’re taking you back to her most iconic cover story

Adidas Mary Fowler

On a little whiteboard at home in her Manchester apartment, Mary Fowler has two quotes written down. "Be the energy you want to attract", and the more improvised "everything is figureoutable".

"I don't know if that's a real word," the footballer laughs from a makeup chair as her thick curls are lifted and blow-dried, "but I saw it somewhere and thought that it's just so true".

Born in Cairns to an Irish dad and Papua New Guinean mum, in place of watching cartoons (her household had no television) Fowler could be found kicking a football around on Trinity Beach with her four siblings after school. Unlike other sports-mad children whose interest in football eventually peters out or is channelled into spectatorship, Fowler, her older brother Caoimhin and younger sister Ciara maintained their passion – the latter two both training with the Irish youth national team.

Adidas Mary Fowler

Left: BURBERRY dress; ADIDAS shoes and socks. Right: LOUIS VUITTON jacket and pants; TALENT'S OWN earrings and ring (worn throughout).


Fowler's ascent in the world of professional football has been swift. In June 2022 she signed a four-year contract as a forward with Manchester City, and this year, as the Matildas competed in the FIFA Women's World Cup on their home turf, Fowler's name and squad number leapt out on handmade signs and rallying cries as the national team won over stadiums filled with new fans and stalwarts alike. On top of this, she's fronted various adidas campaigns alongside her peers Alessia Russo and Lena Oberdorf. Even as I attended local club games, I could see the Fowler effect at play: young girls with bubble ponytails wearing black gloves, not to ward off the cold or curb fidgeting, but to emulate their beloved number 11.

By all accounts, Fowler has always been precocious. At 10 years old she was already playing for the Queensland state U12s team; at 15 she made her international debut with the Matildas, competing against Brazil at the 2018 Tournament of Nations. By the time she was 18, Fowler had represented Australia at her first Olympics, everyone was calling her "the next Sam Kerr", and during one interview, she told reporters of her plans to be "the best in the world".

Adidas Mary Fowler



But what looks effortless on the pitch has been an exercise in utmost discipline; raw talent honed through days, weeks, years of training and unwavering focus – often at great personal expense. "Moving away from home quite young and living away from home for a few years now, it's been very hard at times," Fowler confesses. "When I first moved to France I did get a little homesick at times. I had to remind myself why I was there, and why I was making those sacrifices." Fowler admits that although at the time she was fulfilling her dream, and enjoying living in France and playing for Montpellier, "it was hard to see the sacrifice verse reward" – adding "I think that's something a lot of the girls from Australia have had to do".

It's why Fowler was initially drawn to Simone Biles, encountering the gymnast like so many when she competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro at the tender age of 19. Through Biles, Fowler saw her own experience mirrored back at her. "I admired that as a young person she didn't put limits on herself. She knew she was good and she didn't let the pressure stop her from performing." It resonated deeply. As Fowler's career has evolved, she's come to appreciate how Biles advocates for herself. "She's not afraid to step away if it means taking care of herself."

Adidas Mary Fowler

LOUIS VUITTON jacket and pants; ADIDAS shoes and socks.


During moments when the pressure threatens to overwhelm her, Fowler returns to the quotes on her whiteboard. "Sometimes you think a problem you have is the worst thing in the world, and the reminder that there's always a way to get through it helps me." Although, it's something Fowler has become more equipped to handle the longer she's away from home. Journaling helps too, and Fowler does a lot of writing in her downtime. "It allows me to realise how young I am, how much I've done to get myself here. It puts everything into perspective. I think off-field is where I've had most growth this year, in terms of having a more balanced outlook on life."

As an example, Fowler recalls her reaction to games where she wasn't selected as part of the starting lineup for Man City or the Matildas. "I think in the past that would have made me go into my shell, doubt myself a lot, and feel like I wasn't of any use to the team," she shares. "But this year changed my perspective and helped me realise I have a lot of other valuable things I can offer my team like support and good energy... Just believing that if I gave good energy then good things would come back to me."

"I like to write letters to myself in the future too," she says. "It sounds weird but I've always liked the idea of, in a couple years time, being able to go back to my books or journals and reading what I was thinking in that moment or what I wanted to do at that time and having that connection."

Adidas Mary Fowler

Left: LOEWE shirt and shoes; ADIDAS pants. Right: BOTTEGA VENETA jacket; ADIDAS shorts.


Fowler acknowledges she's a very private person. "I'm not bothered that people don't know a lot about me," she says. In conversation she's warm but considered, how I imagine Hollywood actresses to be after their first flush of fame. Over her two years in the city, she's picked up a Mancunian lilt. However, she wants people to know that there is a side to her off the pitch too. And she hazards a guess that other footballers and athletes feel the same way. "There's a person behind the athlete," she insists. "And I think that's something that can get forgotten very easily because, I don't know, you only see us on the screens and when you're watching our games."

She's learning to relish life's simple pleasures outside of football. Fowler loves to blast The Pointer Sisters and 80s music while she cleans her apartment. She delights in pulling together an outfit and scrolls Pinterest for inspiration. It's Rihanna's "random" approach to dressing that sets her going. "I was very wild in my style growing up, but I think that suits my personality," she reflects, "Even now, I'll wear what I want and I think it's more how you wear it rather than what it is you're wearing." Although, as an adidas ambassador, unless Fowler's dressing up in heels, you'll find her wearing the brand's sneakers – the SL72 shoe is her current favourite – and donning the simpler adidas designs in neutral colours.

Often she'll sit in cafes around Manchester, sip on full-milk cappuccinos, write and read. Sometimes, if she likes the cafe playlist or layout she'll take pictures and file them away for the day she retires from football and opens a cafe of her own. For now though, she's just focused on practising latte art with the coffee machine she recently brought home. "I've only had it for a month and my latte art is rubbish, but I have it as a personal goal to make a few designs next year." That, and she'd like to place at the Paris 2024 Olympics with the Matildas. And why not? From latte art to Olympic gold, everything is figureoutable.

Adidas Mary Fowler

ADIDAS jacket and pants; LOEWE shoes.


PHOTOGRAPHY Buzz White @ One Represents
FASHION Hannah Cooper
TALENT Mary Fowler @ AV Sports
HAIR Tyler Johnston @ One Represents
MAKEUP James O Riley @ One Represents
PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANTS Freddie Hare and Oscar Eckel
SITTINGS EDITOR Kirsten Humphreys
PRODUCER Rosie King @ One Represents
TALENT TEAM Andrew @ AV Sports 

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