Laura Johns may have been introduced to the game much later relative to most in her position.
However, she has more than made up for lost time, having since forged a successful career, amassing 38 Westfield W-League appearances for Adelaide United Women and counting.
She started playing at Para Hills East Soccer Club and stayed there for three years.
“I remember I started playing in year 7 or 8,” Johns recalled.
“I played for Para Hills East and that was only because at that time I wanted to play sport and I didn’t want to wear a dress.
“I went to a public school and most girls my age usually played netball, but I had one friend that played soccer so I ended up playing for her club who she played for.
“And I remember thinking I didn’t want to wear a dress so I decided I wanted to play soccer and I think playing sport was usually something I like doing.
“I guess in primary school they try and expose you to as many things as possible with I guess carnivals and sports classes they try and teach you the rules of all sports.
“So I think I got to an age where I thought I wanted to play in addition to school.”
Johns later moved to Adelaide University Soccer Club and eventually was selected in the now-defunct SASI program on a partial scholarship.
It was there where her career began to take shape and was included in United’s squad ahead of the 2012/13 season as an 18-year-old.
She featured on seven occasions but remembers her form waning and ascribed it to a lack of experience at that level.
Despite this, it was an important test to endure and highlight just what is required to succeed at the highest stage in the country.
“I think it was good because compared to everyone else the majority of the local girls they’d usually say they had played since they were five or as long as they could remember,” she said.
“Whereas for me I felt like I started very late so getting to play in the W-League against girls that were a lot older than me was quite a big achievement I thought at that age.
“I think also it was that next step into professionalism or in a higher soccer team and that experience showed because I probably started most games in the beginning but then dropped off towards the end because of my lack of experience.
“So I think in that it was also a mindset that although I’ve made it, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be guaranteed a spot.
“Whereas I think locally, you kind of just get given a spot because you’re good, whereas when you step into the W-League it’s about consistency of playing.
“So it was a bit of an eye opener for me when I then went to America to play.”
Indeed, a year later in September 2013, Johns decided to move to the United States to complete a degree in exercise physiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, while continuing to play.
Johns felt the experience and extremely competitive environment only helped develop her game further.
“I got a scholarship to go over to Massachusetts and played in the NCAA Division 1 competition,” she said.
“I think it really toughened me up because essentially you train every single day and it’s just such a different environment, you push your body than a lot more than they do here.
“Because over there you can be replaced in two seconds, they’ve I guess a higher population and a higher number of girls that would want to get their education paid for so it’s very competitive.
“I thought mentally it made me tougher but also physically it made me tougher in that regard too.”
Since returning from America, the 26-year-old has been with the Reds the past three seasons and has been a regular at left-back.
Her consistency and composure are some of her best attributes as well as the ability to maraud forward and regularly get crosses into the 18-yard box.
But despite her dependability, Johns revealed at this stage in her career she does not have any real ambitions to try her luck overseas.
Johns said she is settled in her home city and is enjoying her work off the pitch, where she is currently working part time in exercise physiology and undertaking a Masters By Research in the field.
“For me I don’t think so,” said Johns, after being asked about harbouring any aspirations of playing abroad.
“I think I’m probably not looking for a career I guess in a professional sport.
“I thought my time in America was great and I valued that experience but I really love what I do and the progress I’ve made in my career and I’m happy with what I’m doing.”
Last season, Johns also served as a co vice-captain, embracing the extra level of responsibility.
Her discreet leadership style complemented the team dynamic with Johns admitting she is very perceptive of her teammates and any issues they may have.
“I think for me I’m not one of those brutal captains that is very aggressive,” she suggested.
“I think I’m more of a leader that I’m mindful of what others are feeling and when I walk into the room I’m always visually aware of what people are doing.
“So I think in that regard that’s why I was brought on as co vice-captain is because I do care about my teammates.”
Looking ahead to the new campaign under newly appointed Head Coach, Adrian Stenta, the defender expected a more even competition, given the exodus of Matildas across the league.
“It’ll be interesting to see the season this year when teams aren’t relying on their key international players,” she admitted.
“I think it’ll be a good season to watch because it’s going to be a battle for every game.
“I think it’s going to be hard for one team to oversee everyone else, like I felt like Melbourne City (last season) you knew they were going to win every single game; whereas this season I think it’s really open.”
Johns was optimistic about the Reds’ finals chances, something which has still eluded the side.
“I think if we can get a really good pre-season in,” she added.
“I think everyone’s willing to just work really hard on top of other seasons and what we’ve learned to really give it a good shot and make finals this year.
“I do think we’ve the ability this year to make finals.”