Photo credit: The AFC Hub

The current cycle of Junior Matildas show the future in Australian football is sparkling bright. Not only qualifying for the 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in unbeaten style, the squad has become the first in ten years to qualify for the competition’s semi-final stage following a gutsy two all draw against Bangladesh.

If you’ve had the chance to catch the Junior Matildas in action, you may have seen a blonde hair player in the middle of the park with some super silky moves. That’s likely Hana Lowry catching your eye. She’s been tasked with the job moments of magic in the final third, playing in the number ten role. 

Beyond 90 had the chance to have chat with Hana Lowry ahead of her side’s crunch, semi-final match against North Korea.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the group stages was a ripping goal crafted by Lowry’s quality left foot. 

When asked about the re-tweetable moment, the forward quickly brushed off the individual effort and focused on the importance the Thailand match had on the team, “I think that game the team just played so well. It was great to get the reward.”

It’s the unity in the squad that has seen them live out the Matildas ‘never say die’ mantra at crunch time.

“The whole team is so close because we’ve known each other for ages,” Lowry begins.

“I think that’s really important. Going into the game, to be so close. We trust each other so much. I think that helped us get through our last few games.”

The Junior Matildas have travelled some miles together, including places such as Kyrgyz Republic, Laos, and the Pacific Islands. Lowry’s favourite destination so far though?

“This [Thailand] has been my favourite, just because of what we’ve achieved,” the 16 year old admits with ease.

“Being the first team in ten years to make the semis, is such an amazing experience.”

Many of the Matildas to grace this year’s World Cup in France were part of the last squad to reach the semi-finals in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, including Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Alanna Kennedy. 

“It’s great knowing how far they’ve gone and that we’ve achieved that as well. It shows how much hard work we’ve been putting in,” Lowry says about the contrast of the present and past.

Lowry draws inspiration from her fellow Western Australian forwards in Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna. However, there is something more important than Matildas superstars who influence her game.

“My family and my brother has helped me so much since we’ve grown up,” the teenager quickly adds talks of her older sibling. 

“He’s always been helping me.”

Support has followed the Junior Matildas throughout their campaign across Asia. 

“Just so good having that support from home,” Lowry talks of the Green and Gold army.

“My family came to watch the first few games, which is great knowing that they’re watching and supporting you through it.”

The immediate goals of reaching the Under 17 Women’s World Cup in India is a tantalising one, for both herself and the team.

“It would just be unreal.. I think obviously it’s a dream for everyone on the team. Not only the players but also all the coaches,” says the young footballer.

“I think it would just be amazing, like I can’t even describe it.” 

While one day hitting the field for the senior national team is a clear individual dream, there’s something just as important as these big goals.

“I think just to stay in the game and keep loving what I do,” Lowry summarises.

A strong North Korean side stands in the way of the Junior Matildas World Cup dreams. 

“We know it’s gonna be a really tough game,” Lowry admits honestly.

“I think our team can achieve anything, so I think we believe that we can really get a good result.”