Aberdeen Women co-manager Emma Hunter has hailed her side’s game against Rangers at Ibrox as another ‘significant milestone’ in the women’s game.
The Dons travel to Glasgow this Sunday to play the SWPL 1 league leaders at Ibrox, in what will be the first time Rangers’ professional women’s team have played at the stadium.
It’s another historic meeting for the two sides, who last met at Pittodrie last month for Aberdeen’s homecoming match, which saw almost 2,000 fans in attendance.
This season there have been several other games played by women’s teams at club stadiums – including Easter Road, Tynecastle, Celtic Park, Fir Park and New Douglas Park.
And Hunter believes these games have all helped to increase the visibility and progress the women’s domestic game.
‘We’re doing this as a league to try and make sure that the women’s game grows’
She said: “All of these significant milestones are massive to the game as a whole – we can’t underestimate the impact that this will have for the future of the women’s game.
“That’s what every club is invested in, and you can see that in the women’s game right now.
“We’re almost celebrating those milestones together.
“It’s not about getting one up on each other – we’re doing this as a league to try and make sure that the women’s game grows in Scotland.”
Aberdeen were playing in the third-tier as recently as 2019, and have made considerable progress since they became an official extension of Aberdeen FC.
Co-boss Hunter reckons that the Dons are consistently moving in the right direction, and opportunities to play at Pittodrie and Ibrox prove that.
“We’ve hit this journey at the right point,” Hunter explained. “Every season we’ve been a part of a historical moment.
“The first season we became part of the club and the second year we won back-to-back titles and promotions.
“This year we had our homecoming at Pittodrie and now being involved in another historical moment at Ibrox.
“It’s been a really special three years for us as a group – and we’re not taking any of that for granted.”
A better future for the next generation
For Hunter, told as a child that she wasn’t allowed to play football because she was a girl, she can hardly believe she will have had the chance to lead her side at Pittodrie and Ibrox.
“I have to pinch myself every day at the moment with what’s happening at the club and in the game,” Hunter added.
“For somebody like myself, who has been in the game for so long and had so many knockbacks in my career, to then finally see things like this starting to happen… it gives you extra motivation to stay in the game and keep fighting.”
What a year for women’s football in Scotland and @AberdeenWomen first year in SWPL1.Can’t wait for this. A huge well done to everyone at @RangersWFC @Sportymcd 👏🏻 would love to see as many @AberdeenFC supporters get along to this also to show your support #ONETEAM https://t.co/s9q2pUULsG
— Emma Hunter (@EmmaHunterAFC) April 14, 2022
Hunter is confident that attitudes towards women’s football are getting better because of these sorts of occasions, and due to games being regularly televised on the BBC.
And she has witnessed the benefit of increased visibility first-hand through her son and his friends.
Hunter said: “It’s refreshing to see their attitude towards the women’s game.
“And that’s a testament to all the work that’s going on and the visibility of the women’s game.
“My son and his friends don’t see it as being different.
“I’ll be talking about football and he’ll assume it’s about the women, but I’m actually talking about the men’s game – it’s becoming normal for them now.
“It’s so refreshing and really important to see that change for that generation.
“That generation will grow up knowing that football is for women and men.”