Dani Turton on the ball for Tiffin University Dragons. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Turton looking forward to W-League

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa United footballer Dani Turton is home and ready to get back to playing football after a frustrating first year at university in the United States.

Turton took up a sports scholarship with Tiffin University in August last year, only for her stay to be cut short with the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. She returned to Greytown on Tuesday without playing a game.

“The first half of the semester was limited to training up to the spring break in the first week of March, and then the lockdown began, so we had done all the hard work but didn’t have any games,” Turton said.

As a first-year student, 19-year-old Turton was living in a dormitory, where she then had to go into quarantine.

“There was another international student in the same dorm, so we quarantined together,” she said. “We were very lucky, we were really well looked after.”

“They provided us with food, had access to the cafe, and we could order takeout food, but we couldn’t cook in the dorm. School continued online, and that was so much harder.”

The lockdown also limited Turton’s ability to maintain fitness.

“There’s a big indoor facility with a track and gym and everything there shut down.

“We could go to the outdoor facility but chose not to, as it wasn’t clear what the requirements were. We didn’t leave the campus.”

Opting to come home was a no-brainer for Turton.

“I could’ve stayed. There’s a huge percentage of international students there who stayed on, especially those from Europe,” she said.

“New Zealand is probably the safest country in the world to be. I already had my flight booked for the end of the semester, and I managed to bring that forward.”

Getting home proved to be a mission, with Turton having to endure several flights and a frustrating 32-hour wait in Los Angeles after her flight to Auckland was cancelled.

“I had to go into LA and stay the night as they closed the airport. California is very well organised with covid-19, and there were not a lot of people about. It was like a ghost town.”

Once back in New Zealand she then had to endure 14 days quarantine at the Pullman Hotel, Auckland.

“They were amazing. We were looked after very well, and the food was very good.

“I’m very proud how well organised it was, and I probably won’t get another chance to stay in a luxury hotel in central Auckland. But two weeks alone in a little hotel room is very hard.”

“We could sign up for walks around a small park nearby, but it was very well managed when you went outside.”

Turton is uncertain when she can resume her studies at Tiffin University, but in the meantime, she’s itching to get back into action with the Wairarapa United W-League team.

“I’m very excited to get back into training. We’ve probably got the strongest team we’ve had, and we should be in for a really good season.”

Turton missed the last two games of the 2019 season in which United finished second on goal difference behind Wellington United Diamonds.

Wairarapa United chairwoman Wendy Turton said the W-League and men’s Central League are likely to kick-off in mid-June, with both competitions to consist of two full rounds.

“We’re hoping it can happen, but at the moment the teams are restricted with only groups of 10 at training, and we can’t train on the turf at Memorial Park this week because it’s being deep cleansed, so it’s all a bit disjointed,” she said.

“The priority for Capital Football is getting the Central League and W-League up and running, and then the next lot of senior teams and then the juniors.”