A fully packed netball court filled with people young and old was the scene last night in the small village of Kila-Kila as the locals gathered to watch their golden girl, Mary Fowler and the Matilda’s face off against the reigning European Champions in the English Lionesses.
Unfortunately, the Matilda’s were not able to make it to the big dance, but in their efforts to make it into the World Cup Semi-finals for the first time in their history, for this tournament, the Matilda’s garnered the backing of not their home country, but also that of the people up north here in Papua New Guinea.
Extended family members, friends and visitors erupted with excitement and support for every touch Fowler made, and after Sam Kerr’s equalizer in the 63rd minute, the crowd erupted in joy for the World Cup hosts and a glimmer hope.
Although the result swayed in favor of the Pommies, fans where delighted that they had the seen their girl prove to be a threat in attack.
Following the match, a few of the supporters took time to speak with PNG HAUSBUNG on their thoughts of the match, some overall happy with the Matilda’s performance, some thought it otherwise and boy did they express their opinions.
Overall, the majority were proud of the girl playing a pivotal role in the Australian side.
A mother from the village stated that their home girl played a very good game, befitting of a top-notch player and that was what she was happy with that.
Another stated that they enjoyed the high intensity match but lamented that Fowler should have been given a lot more chances to explore the middles of the English defence, something that they believe would have had an impact on the game.
One eager villager said this tournament showcased a lot of talent and on a positive note, Fowler has become a local hero, and hopes this can inspire other young women and girls to push for their dreams and pursue a career in sport.