Kara Turley - Leading from the Front
Find support; talk to people about how you are feeling and pull your friends and family closer. It is okay to be disappointed and let down. Get mad and cry and then get back up and work as hard as you can, and it is easier said than done but find the joy.
Here at Minutes with Moose, there are several qualities that we just love to see in younger footballers.
But one of our favourite qualities to see in a younger footballer, which just happens to be one of the best indications of a player’s potential, is none other than leadership.
Leaders are those that not only strive to be best that they can possibly be, but also the help their teammates become the best that they can be.
Keeping in mind, there are a few ways to determine leadership, from the passion they have for the game to their loyalty towards their club and of course, their dedication to help those around them.
And while they may not be one of the most common types of players to find, we at least know that there is one at the South Fremantle Football Club.
For the past five years, Kara Turley has been playing football and has called the Bulldogs home. During this time, she has had her fair share of success and setbacks that has ultimately shaped the promising leader that she is today.
As with most footballers, Kara had a very humble beginning in football.
“I played with my brothers at the park and had always been their water runner and went to every game and training.”
“Then one day spoke to a relief teacher when in year eight saying I had always wanted to play footy. Turns out she had been playing at SFFC for eight years and I never turned back. Now, I am coming up on my 50th game for the club.”
But before she strapped on the footy boots, she had previously spent the last 12 years doing dancing. However, despite the obvious differences between these two, Kara was more than ready to learn the game.
And over the course of the next few years, she not only developed her own game but also found her preferred playing position.
“It was difficult at first, but I had good leaders and coaches who helped me. I did have a good understanding of the game as I watch AFL from a young age, barracking for Hawthorn.”
“I started in the forward pocket as a 13-year-old playing alongside 19-year-olds, some who have now been chosen to play AFLW.”
“And then as I got older and stronger I found I was a much better backline player and even a midfielder as I love to run down the line and also tackle. I find being in the backline gives me more vision of the game and helps when leading and playing.”
And with nearly 50 games under her belt already, it is safe to assume that she is certainly enjoying her football.
“I enjoy the rush of being on the field with the support of my teammates and coaches. The game slows down as the ball is in my hand and also the thrill of tackling and just having a huge amount of fun.”
“Also love the relationships that I have built, as I have made family and friends for life.”
Considering what we mentioned earlier in regard to what can determine a good leader, the amount of time that Kara has spent with South Fremantle and the love she has for the game, already ticks of the qualities of loyalty and passion.
And while she has been developing and improving which each passing season, this hard working has been paying off as she has also been receiving her own fair share of success.
In 2016, Kara received South Fremantle’s Most Improved award, while the following year in 2017, she was the Co-Captain of the Western Australia State U15s.
Then 2018 saw her receive the Co-Captaincy of South Fremantle as well as South Fremantle’s Players Player award.
And since 2017, Kara has also been a member of Western Australia’s State Academy.
Which “was very rewarding but hard work as it would be elite training lots of times a week. Very fun and super helpful”.
While these achievements are rather impressive, what really stood out too us was simply how Kara felt about her time as a leader and what it meant to her.
“I found it really fun, I love leading. I feel like it comes naturally to me as I have always been the oldest in the family. It is a big responsibility if done correctly.”
And “due to my experience of leading at such young ages it actually landed me a role as my school’s head girl last year. I feel like being a leader is a role model or someone who is approachable”.
“We have this joke at footy about new people who come to training as I tend to be the first to introduce myself nine times out of ten, and it is funny because they could be there for a minute and I’m straight over to them. Everyone seems to get a laugh, but I think that is what being a leader is about.”
But of course, it is easy to judge someone during their good times as they could handle things completely different when things are going wrong. But as you are about to find about, despite having a terrible run of injures, Kara still managed to remain strong and hold onto to those previously mentioned qualities.
“A big injury was last year in summer; I dislocated my finger very seriously in an AFLX scratch match and I had an eight-week long rehab and strengthening. Worked really hard to be noticed as much as possible by state as I didn’t get to play or train with contact.”
“Then I got cleared and the next day I was invited to play in a competition to get my talent viewed and also as a fun cup with the girls from the Talent Academy. Then my first ten minutes of being on the field I tripped chasing a player and fractured my tibia and tore my meniscus. I ended up missing over ten months of football with both injuries.”
“It had been very hard for a 16-year-old to go through something like that, but it made me a lot stronger and helped me understand my body more.”
“It also inspired me because a lot of girls around me where tearing their ACLs or doing serious injuries and it really put into perspective how important my body is and how much I enjoyed football and how strong some of these young girls really are.”
And after missing that much football, her first game back was understandably a big moment, with all that hard work finally paying off.
“I was very excited and nervous; it was my first game back and my first ever night game in thunderstorms. My teammates all got around me and lots of my family and friends came to watch. I was very ready to get back out there.”
But of course, rehab is difficult, especially for younger players, and while she had good support she also admits that at times she did feel like giving up.
“I had really good support, but I almost gave up, then something clicked, and I fought and played and ended playing four games and the Grand Final and even though we lost, the rehab was worth it. But rehab is hard when at times you feel alone.”
And she would also like to take a chance those who have helped her, not just through rehab but throughout her entire football career as well.
“Both of my parents, my pop was a big influence also, but he played soccer, but he was always so proud of me and he would set his chair up on the side lines every game. He was very proud.” “Also, a lot of the coaches I have had have been fantastic, so I would just thank all of them and they know why.”
So, what is next for this highly promising Western Australian product?
“My goal is to make my way into the reserves team for 2020 then possibly break into the league side of 2021 and hopefully be a contender for the drafts when I am up to full fitness.”
“After having injury setbacks it’s just made me appreciate the more reachable goals so much more. For example, even just playing a game throughout the season is a win for me.”
As wholesome as this goal is, it also puts into perspective just how passionate and grounded Kara is, despite all the success that she has had.
And she will remain this extremely promising and humble leader as her career heads towards the top tier of football, because she has already shown that she can remain strong through both good and bad times.
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