For the second season running, Aberdeen Women are the youngest team in the SWPL with an average squad age of 19.4 years old.
Not only are the Dons the youngest team in the top-flight, but they are the youngest across both SWPL leagues – 1 and 2 – with Hamilton Accies having the second-youngest squad with an average age of 19.7, while Gartcairn have the youngest squad in SWPL 2 at 20.8 years old.
The average age of the squad is determined by all of the players who have featured in a matchday squad this season.
Last season in the SWPL, the Aberdeen squad had an average age of 20.7 years old.
The team who featured in the 13-0 loss to Celtic on Sunday had an average age of 18.8 years – with only three starting players over the age of 21.
All of the players manager Clint Lancaster named on his bench were 18 or younger – with the three of the five substitutes who came on being 16 or 17 years old.
A 13-0 loss is not a good look, but there needs to be perspective and as the Dons boss said at full-time, his side were up against a team of full internationals, while he was fielding a team largely made up of teenagers.
The defeat won’t define Aberdeen’s season, nor will it define the career of the young players who are brimming with potential.
Lancaster said after the game: “They are young and they will get over this. They will be disappointed today, but it wont affect them long-term.
“They are a young group and I do have to be careful what I say to them and how I treat them, but I want to give them the opportunities.”
Following the loss there were comments on social media using the defeat as a way to disparage, with some even suggesting the women’s team is a pointless thing for the club to be putting money in.
Some of the best young talent in the country play for the Dons and if the club continue to invest the development of such players can only improve.
And with more investment it means players could envision a professional career with the Dons, with the club stating their ambition to eventually implement a five-year plan towards moving into a full-time operation.
Young talent thriving, but need support of experienced recruits
The team is certainly not pointless and I reckon those people making those comments have never watched an Aberdeen Women game.
If they had they would see the talent on show for themselves.
As strikers do, Bayley Hutchison often earns the plaudits and rightfully so as at only 20 years old she has already made her mark on the SWPL.
She has scored 13 goals in 14 games already this season and is currently the fourth top goalscorer in the league.
It is the third successive season Hutchison has hit double figures in the SWPL, having scored 25 goals in 52 appearances before the start of the 2023-24 season.
In the middle of the park, the Dons boast one of the best homegrown players in the SWPL in 21-year-old Eilidh Shore, while at the back teenagers Jess Broadrick and Madison Finnie continue to impress alongside Chloe Gover – the current second most senior player in the squad at 23 years old.
This term young players such as 17-year-old Darcie Miller – who has scored four goals in all competitions – and Phoebe Murray, 15, have impressed since making their debuts.
These young players are getting a chance partly because they are who Lancaster has at his disposal, but they have proven they are good enough to be included in the squad.
However, it is important to remember how young they are and relying solely on them at this stage of their careers is not a sustainable strategy.
The Dons are in a much better position this season than they were last – imagine how much more progress they could make with a few more experienced players in the mix.
The 13-0 defeat will have been a tough lesson for the young players and it should be for the club, too, as Lancaster needs the right backing to bring in new recruits this winter to better support his young side.