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Graduate Mariel 'roars' for homeland Brazil to win World Cup 

Woman playing soccer

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Words
Michael Jacobson
Published
12 July 2023

Southern Cross University graduate Mariel Hecher loves being a professional footballer in Australia, but when it comes to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, her heart is with her homeland. 

Co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand and with teams from 32 countries, the FIFA Women's World Cup runs from 20 July-20 August. 

Brazilian-born Mariel joined the Brisbane Roar A-League Women’s team in 2020 and has forged an impressive reputation as a forward. She knows many of the Australian Matildas and is excited by Australia’s World Cup prospects and what co-hosting an event of such magnitude will mean for the future of women’s football in this region. 

“The Matildas and Brazil have the ability to go deep into the tournament,” says Mariel. “As much I want Australia to do well, I hope people will forgive me when I say I really want Brazil to win the Women's World Cup for the first time. 

“The competition will be fierce, with teams like England, the US, France, Spain and Germany all contenders. Whatever happens, I am thrilled to be able to watch my home country playing in my adopted country.” 

Mariel hails from the city of Caxias do Sul in southern Brazil where her first sporting love was futsal – an indoor version of football. She played for Lions FC in the National Premier Leagues’ Queensland competition, where her performances caught the attention of the Brisbane Roar.  

Away from football, Mariel completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from Brazil’s Universidade do Vale do Paraiba in 2016, and decided a trip to Australia to visit her brother Felipe was the perfect way to celebrate her achievement. Once here, it did not take her long to decide to stay. 

Eager to advance her health qualifications, she joined Southern Cross University in 2017 and completed a Bachelor of Clinical Sciences (Osteopathic Studies) and a Master of Osteopathic Medicine. 

“The Southern Cross experience was great,” she said. “Being an international student has its challenges, but I was fortunate to study at the Lismore and Gold Coast campuses, my lecturers and classmates really helped me, and I felt fully prepared when I began my osteopathy career. 

“I love how osteopaths think about the body – how we help people to improve their quality of life and better manage their health. Good physical health leads to better mental health and I love seeing patients flourish.” 

An osteopath for The Whole Body Clinic in Brisbane, Mariel is quick to acknowledge the generosity of her employer in allowing her the freedom to also play professional football. After a knee injury kept her out of most of the 2022-23 season, she is preparing for next season and hopes to play for as long as she can. 

But first there is the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Mariel will be living and breathing every game, especially those featuring Brazil and Australia. 

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