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Aberdeen Women’s Jess Broadrick embraces greater expectations on and off the pitch in her maiden SWPL1 season

Aberdeen Women's Jessica Broadrick. Photo by Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutterstock
Aberdeen Women's Jessica Broadrick. Photo by Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutterstock

Aberdeen Women defender Jess Broadrick believes her team are not in SWPL1 “to be made mugs of” and will aim to compete with every team they come up against, no matter their opposition’s professional status.

The season may have started well with a decent SWPL Cup run and consecutive wins and clean sheets in the league, but the Dons are in the midst of a results slump, failing to pick up any points since their 0-0 draw against Spartans almost two months ago.

However, the odds were always going to be stacked against Aberdeen with an October run of fixtures that included playing three of the league’s professional sides back-to-back.

Despite losses against the professional teams, Broadrick insists her side will be better prepared for the reverse fixtures against the top sides, with each meeting in SWPL1 being an opportunity to demonstrate how they have improved.

She said: “We might have suffered big losses, but we always look at the positives. The more times we play these teams, the margins will get smaller and smaller and we will be able to better compete against those sides.

“It’s almost as if the first time we play them, we’re getting used to them, then the second game you are in a better position to get the win, and then for the third time you’re always just trying to do better than you had done before.

Aberdeen Women’s Jess Broadrick comes up against Celtic’s Izzy Atkinson on the opening day of the SWPL1 season. Photo by Kenny Elrick.

“It gives us the opportunity again to keep playing against top quality opposition and prove not only to the club, but to the players that we’re competing against and show them that we’re no mugs and we can go out and compete against anyone.

Aberdeen travel to Celtic on Sunday to kick off the second round of SWPL1 fixtures, where Broadrick will hope her ethos will ring true as the Dons look to better their opening day 4-2 defeat to the Ghirls.

A wise head on young shoulders

The defender might only be 17 years old, but on the ball she looks wiser than her years would suggest, having become an integral player for the Dons in their first season back in the top flight.

Broadrick has featured in every game in all SWPL competitions, starting all but Aberdeen’s opening game of the season against Boroughmuir Thistle in August.

No longer a stranger to top flight opposition, one of her personal highlights so far was scoring against Scotland senior international Jenna Fife in the Dons’ 5-2 defeat to Rangers in the SWPL Cup – an achievement that is even more impressive in hindsight with Rangers not conceding another goal for over a month after their meeting with Aberdeen.

It was made even more special for Broadrick as she was played out of position on the right wing rather than her familiar centre-half role for the game.

She explained: “I’m a defender so I don’t score many goals, but that goal against Rangers felt quite special.

“Lauren Gordon played an incredible pass through and I just ran onto the ball,getting the better of the defender and then beating Jenna Fife in the goal.

“As someone who doesn’t score many goals, that has definitely been a personal highlight not only to score, but to get a goal against a really good team.”

From the inspired to inspiring

The young defender might have come up against plenty of Scotland internationals like Fife already this season, but Broadrick is no stranger to international duty herself, having captained the under-19s Scotland side in their most recent European qualifiers.

Thanks to her rise and recognition for both club and country, Broadrick has found herself in a new position off the pitch as a role model – a responsibility that she is more than happy to have.

She said: “When I was younger playing in the under-13s, I remember always looking up to Kelly Forrest and Loren Campbell, so now to be playing with those players that I’ve looked up to is something in itself.

“But being a role model isn’t something that I had ever really thought of as a job in itself, but now I might be that person who players might look up to like I did with Kelly and Loren.

“I see it as how can I help the future generation improve and inspire them. I think the little things we do within the club, like going to the youth teams’ training, can go a long way to promote the game and motivate the players coming through the pathway.

“When I was at the under-13s training, they were preparing for a cup final and I remember what it’s like to play in those games. It’s probably the biggest match you’ll have played in at that age.

“Moments like speaking to the younger players, it’s kind of another ‘pinch me’ moment, because I was there not too long ago and, now, I’m in the first team playing in SWPL1.

“For as long as I’m playing football, helping and inspiring younger players will always be something I’ll continue to do.”