17-year-old Hana Lowry has excelled for both club and country over the past 18 months, so it’s only fitting that on International Youth Day we feature one of Australia’s brightest prospects.
If you’ve watched either Perth Glory or the Westfield Junior Matildas recently, you may have noticed a left-footed midfielder with silky passing and an eye for goal.
Like many footballers, Lowry followed an older sibling (her brother) into football, registering with local club Cockburn City at the age of seven. It wasn’t long before she was representing her state of Western Australia at the FFA National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour, where her first serious thoughts of national team selection were kindled.
Lowry first earned national team call-up in March of 2019 when Westfield Junior Matildas head coach Rae Dower selected her for the second qualifying round of the 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship held in Laos.
She impressed immediately, getting on the scoresheet in Australia’s game against the hosts - not bad for her first time travelling abroad.
“I first went overseas with the Junior Matildas,” Lowry recalls. “We started off in a camp at Brisbane, then we went to Laos. It was a dream come true to be able to represent your country and stepping out on the pitch for the first time was unbelievable.”
Five months later, Lowry was part of the Westfield Junior Matildas’ historic Pacific Step-Up Tour, a friendly series against the women’s national teams of three OFC nations: Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
The trip allowed Lowry to bond not just with her team-mates, but also with her opponents after gaining a better understanding of the challenges young female footballers can face elsewhere in the world.
The strength of this bond was shown when the Westfield Junior Matildas recorded a message of support after Cyclone Harold tore through the South Pacific back in April.
“Obviously we were going over there to play football against all the places that we visited, but it was also to bring those countries closer together and bring women's football to those countries,” Lowry said.
“It was one of our team-mates who had the idea of sending that message, and I think it just shows how big that experience was for us. Sending that message made them realise that we're still thinking of them, and we hope that everything over there is okay.”
One month after the Pacific tour, Lowry started all five of Australia’s games in the 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Thailand. She scored three goals during the tournament, but the Westfield Junior Matildas just missed out on qualification for the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
On a personal level, the success kept coming as Lowry signed her first professional contract with Perth Glory, making her Westfield W-League debut in December, coming off the bench against Sydney FC.
“I remember being quite nervous,” Lowry said.
It's definitely a massive dream to make your W-League debut and considering I got to do it at such a young age, I was very grateful to have been given that experience.”
Two more milestones came the following month. First, on her Perth Glory starting debut, Lowry scored her first Westfield W-League goal in a 4-2 victory over Newcastle Jets.
“Crystal (Thomas) crossed the ball, I just got my head onto it and it went in the goal. I didn't really know what to do, but yeah, it was definitely something I'll never forget.”
And second, Lowry was rewarded for her club and national team performances by being named WA Footballer of the Year in March.
Soon afterwards, the world twas turned on its head due to COVID-19. Lowry was like all footballers in that she missed the team environment during the lockdown period. She did, however, turn it into a positive, using that time to develop her game.
“That was quite difficult, just not being able to train with your teammates, but I think it was also good,” Lowry said. “It gave me some time to work on my weaknesses and also work hard off the pitch as well.”
Lowry has taken full advantage of football’s return, recording four assists and a goal for Football West Hyundai NTC in the first six rounds of the inaugural NPL WA Women’s competition. She is relishing the challenge of playing in a team with many other youth internationals.
“A lot of the players in the NTC have represented Australia. Bella (Wallhead) and I have been playing together since I was seven years old, and just being able to grow up and represent the country together was pretty surreal.
“They're constantly pushing you, and it's definitely a very competitive environment at NTC. So that's good because it keeps you on your toes and makes sure that you're working hard.”
With current Wesfield Matildas captain Sam Kerr also being from Western Australia, this provides added inspiration for Lowry and her peers.
I was lucky enough to train with Sam last season at Glory and just seeing how much work she has put in to get to where she is, made me realise the amount of hard work I’ve got to do to keep pushing forward.”
The prospect of a home World Cup in three years’ time has only added to Lowry’s motivation, and she is also aware of the bigger picture with regards to Australian football.
“A lot of players my age will be pushing to make that team,” she said.
Either way, just being able to have the World Cup on your home soil is amazing. Obviously, the best players in the world will all be in Australia, so it's definitely going to have a big impact on women's football here.”
Lowry has her feet firmly planted on the ground and realises that she has only taken the first steps towards her long-term goal of playing for the Westfield Matildas. Even so, there’s no limit on what this talented teenager will accomplish when all is said and done.
“I think being part of the Junior Matildas and the Glory has shown how much hard work and dedication you need to put in to make it. Hopefully I can keep going and one day play for the Matildas. That would be the overall goal.”