Ben Gilby has recently had the opportunity to interview Hana Lowry, one of the brightest stars in the future of the women’s game in Australia. Already a Young Matilda and a W-League regular for home state-side Perth Glory, Ben asked Hana to critically review her career so far and her aims for the future.
Hana Lowry is spoken about by many as, potentially, one of the brightest stars in the next generation of Australian women footballers.
The seventeen-year-old Western Australian grew up in Cockburn (about twelve miles from Perth) and went to Coogee Primary. She went on to study at John Curtin College of the Arts which is the state’s leading football program in secondary schools.
Hana began our chat by describing how she was first introduced to the game: “I have an older brother who has always played football as did my dad, so I was immediately introduced to the game as soon as I was born!”
“My family are definitely my biggest supporters. My brother was the reason I started playing and he has always been there for me.”
“I started football properly when I was seven playing with the boys in Cockburn up until I was 14. I then moved to the Western Australia National Training Centre (NTC) program in the under 15’s and I have now been there for three years. I was selected for my first state team in under 12’s and since them have played at the national youth championships at Coffs Harbour in New South Wales as well as the NTC Challenge – which is a competition where the different state representative sides take on each other.”
It was two years ago that Hana’s ability was brought onto an international stage when she was selected for the Junior Matildas (Australia’s U17 national side).
“In 2019 I was selected for my first Junior Matildas camp and throughout that year travelled to Laos, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands as well as Thailand for the Asian Championships. I was given a scholarship with Perth Glory in 2018, and in 2019 I got my first contract and made my debut.”
The teenager has many people to thank for helping her on her footballing journey. “My family are definitely my biggest supporters. My brother was the reason I started playing and he has always been there for me and giving me advice in football. They have always been there for me and have sacrificed so much to support me in any way they can. All my coaches from Cockburn, to the NTC, John Curtin College Football Program and Perth Glory have all been so supportive and have helped me to improve as both a player and person.”
Whilst Hana’s senior footballing career is still in its early stages, I wondered what her biggest challenge so far has been: “I have been lucky to not have too many significant setbacks. Going into lockdown earlier in the year was definitely a challenge for everyone who plays sport. Going from seeing your team every day to only being allowed to train alone was challenging. However, it allowed me to take some time to work on my own weaknesses and also made me realise how important playing in a team environment is.”
Perth Glory have been particularly badly hit by the impact of the coronavirus restrictions. The total closure of Western Australia’s state borders for most of 2020 meant that it was very late into December that the team’s new arrivals, including head coach Alex Epakis, could get going. The club have also played half the number of games that the majority of their W-League opponents have due to a new state lockdown over the past month, which has now been lifted.
Despite these difficulties, Perth Glory have been trying to make the best of a tough situation and the work of new coach Alex Epakis in developing the new squad has gone well. Hana told me about the qualities that Epakis has brought to the club: “Alex has been amazing since he has arrived at Glory. He creates a very good environment both on and off the pitch which allows the team to work well together. He is very focused on creating a positive atmosphere which allows the team to have a strong bond. Both Alex and the team always push to create a high intensity at training.”
Despite the many postponements and changes to their match schedule, Hana feels the squad remain in a good place: “Obviously the changing in fixtures has been a challenge for the team, however, the team has been incredibly flexible and adaptable and not allowed it to affect how we are at training. We haven’t let it affect us and know that we must be ready to play whenever we are able to do so.”
Perth’s three matches to date in the W-League have seen two narrow losses to Adelaide United and an outstanding draw away to title contenders Canberra United. As part of a squad with a number of hugely talented teenagers, I wondered how Hana viewed the early games: “Although the results have not gone our way so far, we have definitely shown improvement as we get further into the season. Being a very new team, we are getting used to how each of us plays and this will continue as we get more games in.”
This was always going to be a transitional season for Perth Glory and the beginning of a long term project of bedding in a number of young, locally developed players, so I asked Hana what success would look like for the team this season: “Success for our team is getting better each game and in doing so, getting good results. An improvement of performance every time the team steps onto the pitch and winning as many games as we can.”
We closed our discussion by examining the high points of Hana’s short career so far and looking at what goals she wants to set herself in the medium term: “Being selected for the Junior Matildas was definitely a dream come true and stepping onto the pitch for the first time with the team was very special. The team had a unique bond which allowed us to achieve some great results especially in Thailand. Playing at a World Cup has always been a dream ever since I was little and being able to on home soil would make it very special.”
“Over the next five years I want to improve and work hard to get better. It is definitely a goal of mine to play for the Matildas one day and get more experience in the W-League to grow as a player.”