Aberdeen Women captain Kelly Forrest is delighted to be leading the Dons out once again, after an Achilles injury kept her on the sidelines for almost three months.
Forrest led the Dons out for the first time this season in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Celtic, making only her second appearance of the SWPL 1 season having come off the bench in the final 15 minutes against Motherwell.
Aberdeen kept a clean sheet for 80 minutes on Forrest’s return, with the defenders’ skills and experience on the pitch invaluable to the Reds’ backline, before the Hoops claimed the win with three late goals.
The skipper said: “It’s been close to 12 weeks since I had last played in the cup game against Rangers in August so it’s great to be out on the pitch again.
“I think potentially getting us through the latter stages of last season where we played a lot of games in a short space of time probably didn’t help me coming into this new season.
“It’s been a long journey back, but albeit a bit of a disappointing result at Celtic where I felt like we held our own.
“But it was brilliant to be able to lead the side out for the first time in SWPL 1. We’ve had a really long journey getting back to this point and we’re a really close group, so to get us up and lead them out was a big moment for me.
“I think it’ll be an even bigger moment at home on Sunday against Partick Thistle which I’m really looking forward to.
“We’ve got a great young group of footballers who are so talented and their attitude is great which makes life easy for me as captain.”
Leading with experience
Forrest led the Dons to two consecutive promotions back to SWPL 1, and was also part of the squad that last played in the top flight in 2017.
Now being back on the pitch, the skipper hopes that she can use her knowledge and experience to support Aberdeen’s young players.
But she doesn’t view it as an added pressure as her teammates are already aware of the level to expect in SWPL 1 having experienced it firsthand themselves.
The skipper explained: “Some of the girls will never have played at this level before, but you can’t question their attitude because they know that the step up is massive already.
“I don’t feel like it’s an added responsibility, everyone has the same objective and being a bit more experienced will help to talk them through the game and keep people organised.
“Having that extra experience is where my strength will come in, but the will to win is naturally within the players. I don’t feel any added pressure.”
A sideline perspective
Forrest admits it has been difficult watching on from the sidelines as Aberdeen made their much awaited return to the pinnacle of domestic women’s football.
However, having missed the first round of SWPL 1 fixtures due to injury, the captain has been able to analyse performances with an off-pitch perspective.
She explained: “It’s frustrating watching any game of football from the sidelines when you’re part of the team, but it’s an injury we’ve had to be patient with and not rush back.
“It’s been difficult watching on, but to be fair to the girls they’ve had a tough run of fixtures and I don’t think we can say we’ve been poor, there has been performances there which for me is the most important thing.
“If we’re being honest with ourselves, there’s a couple games where we would have preferred to take some more early points.
“In the Motherwell game we were left disappointed losing out by just one goal and then the same with Hearts at home earlier in the season.
“Certainly last season we set out to make our home pitch a fortress and at least maintain wins against the lower half of the league so there’s been a couple disappointing results for me, but there’s a lot of time to rectify that.
“We’re back to an almost full squad now so it’s time for no more excuses and to crack on.”
Aberdeen Women have signed a deal with Tendeka, a global reservoir management specialist headquartered in Aberdeen, to become an official supporter of the club.
The new partnership will see Tendeka branding emblazoned on the back of the Dons home and away shirts as they compete in SWPL 1.
Off the pitch, Dons captain Forrest has particularly close ties with Tendeka having worked as an operations supervisor at the company since 2019.
Forrest said: “The minute I walked in the door at Tendeka they’ve always reached out to understand what people do outside of the office and there’s always been that interest.
“It’s been a huge compliment and something that I’m really grateful for with respect to my work getting behind me and supporting women’s football.
“It’s a huge opportunity for Tendeka, and I’m not sure if other people are aware of how good a chance it is to get involved in women’s football which has grown exponentially.
“For me, I would be jumping at the opportunity to get involved if you’re a local company in Aberdeen.”
Tendeka CEO Brad Baker said: “It is very much our intention to be a fully involved supporter who helps drive awareness of women’s and girls’ football, while also helping to contribute to grassroots football and making a notable impact in the local community.
“As a company with our roots firmly in the north-east of Scotland, Tendeka shares core values with AFC. Our own story within the energy industry resonates with the women’s team and their impressive journey to the top league.
“This is an exciting time for the club, and I’m pleased that as a local company we will get the opportunity to play a small part in its ambitious plans.”