President Turner reflects on a lifetime in water polo

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NATALIE Turner has spent a lifetime in water polo and is now excited to be part of growing a new club from scratch at Cockburn while nothing quite brings her more joy than watching the next generation coming through including her own children.

The opening of Cockburn’s Aquatic Recreation Centre which includes the home of the Fremantle Dockers set the stage for the Cockburn Water Polo Club to be established back in 2017 with Turner at the forefront of its establishment from the outset.

Turner remains president of the Cockburn Water Polo Club and without question the growth has been impressive as it looks to turn itself into a power in junior and senior water polo with the eventual aim of competing alongside long-time powerhouse Melville, UWA, Dolphins and Triton.

The growth and development has been impressive already in a short space of time which Turner has been encouraged by, but she does still see plenty of work to do for Cockburn to get where it hopes to.

“Yes I feel very excited however require more junior players. We have been trying very hard to build from the bottom up,” Turner said.

Our vision is to end up becoming a strong thriving local club in the south that provides both social and competitive pathways for both junior and senior players.”

Being president at Cockburn is just Turner’s latest contribution in water polo but it’s far from all she does with the club. She also coaches extensively through the club’s teams and gets a lot of satisfaction from doing so.

“Meeting new people in the community and developing new skills has without doubt been the best part of being president for me, it’s been a great experience in a lot of ways,” she said.

“Then in terms of the coaching I do with the junior players we have, it has been a joy watching the kids develop and grow into competitive players.”

Turner herself is no stranger to playing water polo and she has had quite the long and distinguished playing career.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the career as a player that Turner was able to put together and it all started back in 1983 when was bored with swimming and started to play water polo at Triton.

There was no juniors at that time so the 15-year-old began playing B-Grade straight away with a men’s size ball and a weird old centre back rule where you’d get ejected after three centre back fouls.

The next year she was playing in the A-Grade competition and then her career took her overseas to play for Eimsbuttel Verrein in Hamburg, Germany.

While there she played both in the local competition and the national league, quite the impressive feat in one of the strongest water polo nations in the world.

After eight years of playing overseas, Turner returned home to Perth in 2001 and began playing at Dolphins where she still plays to this day having initially played for Western Australia in state schoolgirls and junior national championships between 1983 and 1989.

As for what sort of player she was, Turner was quite the competitor and as a result racked up quite the impressive list of accomplishments.

“I’m a lefty and I’ve always played with a lot of heart. Some would describe me as a rough player but I would describe myself as ‘playing hard to win’,” Turner said.

“Some of my highlights when I look back include winning the A-Grade grand final with Triton, national trips to Sydney, Hobart and Perth, playing in Germany and Holland, and a training camp in Arhus, Denmark.

“I was also able to play in the World Masters Games in Perth 2008 and Riccione, Italy 2012. We also won a B-Grade grand final with Dolphins in 2004. Those are the things that come to mind.”

From the moment she made the move from swimming to water polo, Turner has never looked back and has loved every bit of her involvement not matter the language spoken.

“I loved water Polo from the start because it was so much fun, kept me super busy and fit and I made lifelong friends with my teammates and opposition,” she said.

“It was always my dream to play in another country and learn the language, so was very happy I was able to accomplish this. So weird to yell out to team mates to ‘shoot’ in another language- Shiess doh!”

While Turner still loves to get in the pool herself, as a mother with children that play, a coach of juniors and a president of a club, it’s watching the next generation come through that gives her the most satisfaction.

Especially to be able to do that as a family.

“The biggest joy for my husband and I is watching our kids play, try hard and have fun. It’s really awesome to know my previous A grade coaches are also coaching my kids,” Turner said.

“I think it’s pretty special and unique to water polo that many of my friends kids now either play against me and/or are playing, coaching or reffing my kids. I even got to have a season of playing with my daughter but I don’t think she was that wrapped having to play with ’50 year olds’!

“It’s a very big part of our lives especially as I’m coach and President at Cockburn, play for dolphins and support my kids at Triton. I’m so wrapped that my son loves water polo even more than I ever did! It’s such a joy to watch.”