Aberdeen FC Women have made history as they prepare to become a semi-professional team.
The club confirmed the news of the significant milestone on Friday morning.
It comes as the SPFL take a lead role in the development of women’s top-flight football as the women’s game is on an exciting upward trajectory.
Aberdeen explained that they have a strong desire to build on the progress and success achieved so far, with the move to semi-professional taking AFC to the next phase of a ‘strategic plan’.
The side have enjoyed back-to-back promotions and a successful season in the Park’s Motor Group SWPL 1.
The Dons consolidated their mid-table position and have now made the ambitious move to further invest in the progression of the women’s side.
First-team players including Jess Broadrick, Bayley Hutchison, Francesca Ogilvie, Eilidh Shore and Eva Thomson have already signed contracts that will see them remain at the club until 2024.
Further investment is being made by Aberdeen to help enhance operations both on and off the field as well as improving standards and infrastructure.
The Dons said that they are also looking to ensure there is a clear pathway to professional football for female footballers across the north-east.
AFC Director of Football, Steven Gunn, is delighted to see the Club’s vision, set in motion three years ago for AFC Women, come to fruition with this enhanced model.
He said: “Ever since we took the decision to bring the women’s team under the Aberdeen FC umbrella in 2019, we have been on an incredible journey winning the SWFL Division 1 – North, SWPL 2 and now consolidating our place in SWPL 1.
“We’ve enjoyed several ‘firsts’ including the first AFC women’s match at Pittodrie recently in front of a fantastic crowd. Now we’re pleased to have rewarded this group of players with the club’s first ever professional contracts for women football players as we embark on the next part of our journey with women’s football in the region.”
Gavin Levey, AFC Academy Director, who oversees AFC Women, added: “We feel it’s the right time to move forward and professionalize the game here in the north-east.
“It’s a big step for us but it’s also a step that’s been taken with a lot of thought behind it and it fits both our long-term football strategy at the club and our financial model.
“Interest in and support for AFC Women has grown dramatically, and we think it is right to reward the players with the opportunity to become the first ever professional female players in the club’s history.
“These players were selected because they are all young, promising players. We feel their performances and in particular, those at international level, merit the chance to go and develop to be the best they possibly can, like we would do for any young player here at Aberdeen Football Club.
“The rest of the players in the squad will have the opportunity to become professional as they progress and develop further.
“More importantly, we’re going to enhance what we do for them as well, for each individual that’s not on a professional contract.
“We’ll improve what we do for them by going forward to help take us to another level and work our way up the league, but more importantly become a sustainable side in the top-flight.
“It’s ultimately about giving young girls in the north-east and beyond the chance to fulfill their dreams of becoming professional footballers here at Aberdeen FC. These five players will clearly demonstrate what is possible for aspiring female footballers making their first moves within the game.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.