England forward Natasha Dowie seems to have found a home away from home at Melbourne Victory, one that is mutually favourable for both club and player.
Dowie is somewhat of a rarity among this season’s international brigade. Most of the nine club’s international quota has been filled by Americans, and the vast quantity are in Australia for the first time.
Dowie, however, is the only Englishwoman to line up this campaign, and returns to the Victory after a stint at the conclusion of the last Westfield W-League season.
And the prolific 28-year-old striker couldn’t be happier. It all adds up to a perfect outcome for Melbourne Victory if last Sunday’s 3-3 draw at Adelaide United is any gauge. Dowie netted twice and looked completely at home donning the Big V.
The Victory will have their first home match of the season this Sunday when Newcastle Jets pay a visit.
Here, Dowie talks through her thoughts on the Westfield W-League, ambitions for the season and the influence of some famous family members.
What brought you back to Australia for another season?
I loved everything about it, the weather, the food, Melbourne itself. I was really impressed with the standard of football, also with so many international players coming here now. For me it was really a simple decision. It was a bit of a nerve wracking situation with so much competition for international spots. I really wanted to be involved, and I was really over the moon when coach Jeff Hopkins said he wanted to sign me.
Based on the weekend it seems you fit in perfectly with the Victory team?
Absolutely, 100 per cent. Jeff has brought in some top international players, and we have some great young players. We have a really strong spine of the team. As a group we all get on really well on and off the pitch which is important.
In particular you link-up with midfielder Christine Nairn was notable...
Playing with the likes of Christine Nairn is great. She is left and right footed and it is rare to have someone playing behind you who can spot your run and put the ball exactly where you want it. The assist from (right midfielder) Kariah White was unbelievable, so I have some really good players around me. I’m an old-school centre-forward and like to tussle with the centre-halfs, get into the box and score goals.
Have you talked about team goals as a group?
We have an experienced squad as a group, and in Jeff Hopkins we have a coach that knows what it takes, he has been there and done it and knows what it takes to be successful in this competition. Any player wants to win things. It was a disappointing year for Victory last year, which they are not used to. We are definitely setting our standards high this year, and we would love to make the play-offs, that must be every team's goal. We played a top team on the weekend, and got a good point away from home. I think we can kick-start things and have a good year.
Have you noticed any change with the league or club since last season?
Definitely. With the number of international players that have come in, the league will go from strength to strength. For us, being linked with the men’s teams ... they are backing us a lot more. There have been a lot of little things like the availability of facilities, being taken to the men’s games in the private boxes, the CEO taking us out for meals and just letting us know we are important.
What influence did you dad (coach Bob Dowie) and uncle (former Northern Ireland and Premier League striker Iain Dowie) have on you as a footballer?
My dad has been my coach and No1 supporter and has been since I started playing the game aged four or five. He has travelled the world supporting me, he has played and coached the game and he knows what it is all about. My family has supported me hugely. My uncle is always on the phone to my dad asking how I’m getting on. It is really important to have the support of people who have done great things in the game.
Any chance of your dad coming Down Under to watch you turn out for the Victory?
I have spoken to him about coming out at Christmas time. I think the long flight puts him off. But I just know he would love it.