Ahead of the 2020 season, we’ll catch-up with every single Scottish Building Society SWPL team. From new Head Coaches, new signings, and new aspirations, it’s set to be another exciting campaign.
We spoke to Aberdeen FC Women’s Manager, Emma Hunter. Her side went undefeated in the SWFL Division One North League as they obtained promotion back to SWPL 2.
How are excited are you for the 2020 season? There is a huge sense of excitement amongst the group of players and staff for the season ahead. With this being a new challenge and a new league for us it becomes even more interesting. With Harley departing the club to pursue a career in Australia we are now recruiting a replacement and we are looking forward to how this will evolve along with our new signings at the club recently. Our aim as is always every season to continue to develop and build on the success already achieved from both players and staff perspectives.
What do you make of the changes for the new season? I think the changes are really positive and makes the league more competitive, which in turn makes it more interesting, challenging and offers more fixtures. We need to continue to try and grow the women’s game in Scotland and making these type of changes to the league will only improve the standard and professionalism as to which it operates. It is always difficult to accept change and I am sure there will be some challenges this season, however we all need to embrace them for the good of the game long term.
What are your aims and ambitions for the new season? We come off the back of a fantastic season gaining promotion through an unbeaten league campaign so we have a real momentum on our side so we will be aiming to win this league, which we are more than capable of with a great mix of youth players and experienced players who have played in the top flight before. We need to make sure a team in the North are back in the SWPL 1 and that is Aberdeen’s aim. Just like many of the other teams consistency will be key and losing or drawing games could cost you. So the real aim will be to take each game as it comes and to make lots of short term goals rather than that long term goal.
Based on the other teams in the league, do you think this will be the most competitive season ever? I think it will be a very competitive league for sure and even more so than last season with Stirling University and two teams coming up into it. With the transition of the new structure of leagues there has been a lot of movement of players this season and it will in turn produce more quality in both the SWPL 1 and 2 leagues. Like Aberdeen there has also been a significant investment from professional clubs into the women’s and we are bound see an impact there in terms of development and quality within the leagues.
With the new season around a month away, how have preparations been so far? Preparations have been great so far and with the season kicking off early it was important we were back in early January and hit the ground running. We have a few new signings, but not many changes to our squad from last year so it has allowed us to almost continue where we left off last season. So far the weather has been relatively kind to us so we have been able to get a lot of pitch time and fingers crossed that continues to allow us a few friendlies in before the League Cup matches.
Do you have plans to/have you had much change to the squad? We have made a few additions to the squad as we recognised this would be an intense season with a lot more fixtures, coupling that with the youth International calendar it was important we had depth and strength in our squad. We also recognised that we needed some more experienced players in, and all the additions have had experience in both SWPL 1 and 2. We will also look to offer to bring in Aberdeen 19’s squad players when we can, which in turn builds for the future of the club.
For perhaps new fans of the women’s game, who are some players in your squad they should look out for? We have a lot of very talented young players, but one of longest serving players Loren Campbell is definitely one to look out for this season as she will thrive playing in this type of league and her experience will show on the pitch. The full back is difficult to beat, but she also love to bomb forward and make an impact in the final third. We also have Division 1 North Player of Year, Eilidh Shore, who is an Under 19 Internationalist scored 22 goals from midfield last season. Bayley Hutchison, an under 17 internationalist who won 2019 Young Player of the Year, was our top goal scorer of 38 goals from 26 appearance’s will be a key player for us next season again.
As well, are there any new/younger players we may see more of in 2020? Jess Broadrick and Eva Thomson who are both still eligible for Under 16 are players to look out for that and will feature in our squad, they have managed to break into the Under 17 National team. We also hope to give the Aberdeen Ladies 19s players an opportunity wherever we can. Bailey Collins who has recently been selected to attend the Under 17 camp has been a stand out for the 19’s Performance squad and has recently been training with the squad. Our young goalkeeper Gail Gilmour who is an Under 16 National squad player will also be one to look out for this season as she joined us from Deveronvale last season.
You start the new season at home to Kilmarnock. What do you make of that fixture? We played Kilmarnock in Scottish Cup last season winning narrowly by three goals to one so we know to expect a very competitive game, however it will be nice knowing that we will be playing at home on the Cormack Park facility. I am sure the Kilmarnock players will be wanting to make up for the loss in the cup so I would be expect a close an exciting game to start the season off with.
How important do you think it will be to get off to a good start? I feel it is really important to start well and give the players that bit of confidence, however we are equally mindful that we have a long season ahead and in this league and teams are going to drop points throughout the season. We have a couple of good friendlies lined up and League Cup fixtures before the first game so that really gives us a good opportunity to fine tune things in preparation to the first league game.
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and support your team this season? We have a really exciting team with an aim to try and play entertaining football. Throughout all last season I think anyone who came to watch us was impressed with the quality and in particular some of the fantastic individual and team goals we scored. I think this season in particular in the SWPL 2 league every game will be competitive and entertaining and all our home fixtures are free to come along and watch.