At the age of 29, Northern Ireland international Kim Turner is about to embark on her first season playing professional football in the FA Women’s Super League. It’s a dream that at one point, never looked like becoming reality.
Turner has played football in numerous different countries but only now is she able to fulfil her ambition of competing at the highest level, thanks to the positive changes in the women’s game which have created new opportunities that would never have arisen otherwise.
“Attitudes in women’s football are changing and it’s brilliant,” she asserted. “When I was 18, I was playing for the national team and we were still playing in men’s kits but now, the game in England is definitely catching up to that of America. You can even see that on the international stage.
“The new league structure in particular is good. It’s making the game a lot more competitive and it’s giving those players who may not have been able to reach elite status, the opportunity to get it – like me.
“I’m 29 and I’m playing professional football. I’ve been given that chance. Having more teams in the top tiers of women’s football will allow more women to come and play and things can only get better.”
Turner’s interest in football sparked at the age of seven and never left. The midfielder admits that without the game, her path would have been very different.
“From a young age, football has been a massive part of my life,” she declared. “It’s given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“It even took me to the University of Southern Mississippi in 2003 and I stayed for an extra two years there to play semi-professionally.
“To be honest, I feel like I owe football because it’s done so much for me.”
Following her extended stay in the States, Turner travelled to Iceland to play for Grindavik, before making the move to Manchester. She stayed at City for just one year and transferred to Blackburn in 2010 for a three-year stint at the Lancashire club.
In 2013, the Northern Ireland international returned to the Blues and is now eagerly anticipating the start of the 2014 season.
“I’m feeling good,” she smiled. “I’m not a full-time player so I don’t train every day like everyone else but I’m still feeling excited.
“Everyone seems to be gelling really well and the new signings have settled in nicely. This club is very open and nobody is any bigger than anyone else.
“As a team, although we haven’t discussed specific targets yet, I’m pretty sure we all want some silverware. In the league, we want to finish as high as we can and be competitive.
“I want to be playing every week. I know that with the quality we have, it’s not going to be easy but that will make everyone work harder.”
Belfast-born Turner admits that having to juggle full-time employment with football can be a tough challenge, as she is one of several Blues’ players with non-professional contracts.
“Outside of football, I’m a personal trainer and a fitness manager of a gym,” she revealed. “I work full-time – 40 hours a week – but I do shift work which helps because I can work weekends to accommodate for training in the week.
“My job is quite flexible and they support what I do but I have to be there for them too. I have to give as much to them as I do to City and balance both.
“Outside of football, I like to travel. I’ve travelled quite a lot – with football and on holiday. I like to broaden my mind and see how other cultures live.
“To be honest, there isn’t much time for hobbies with a full-time job and training five times a week! But at the moment, that’s what I have to do and I know I’m lucky to be able to do that.”