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Aberdeen Ladies join forces to create northern powerhouse

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• Aberdeen Ladies merge with the men’s side in an aim to expand girls and ladies football in the North of Scotland.
• Over 170 players now play for Aberdeen Ladies and Girls FC.
• Interview: Allan Smith
As Aberdeen’s senior men’s side continues its renaissance under the tutelage of Derek McInnes, the resurgent Pittodrie club have added another string to their bow by signing a cooperation agreement with Aberdeen FC Ladies in a bid to create a new northern powerhouse in Scottish women’s football.
The deal between Aberdeen FC and the premier set-up of Aberdeen FC Ladies is the latest step in a well-established partnership. Since January 2013, Aberdeen FC and Aberdeen FC Ladies have cooperated closely on a relatively informal basis. 
But in a bid to further develop the women’s game in the Granite City and the wider North East, both clubs have come together to sign a formal deal which will see the side wear the club’s official red and white shirts and deepen their cooperation. 
Since Aberdeen FC Ladies was established in 2011 from a merger of Aberdeen Ladies & Girls FC and East End Girls FC, the club has expanded greatly. Over 170 players spread across three senior teams, six youth teams and four primary school teams are now on their books.
The deal, which will see Aberdeen FC supplying the senior side with match-day and training kit while also promoting the team through their media channels and providing meeting facilities at Pittodrie, was warmly welcomed by manager Allan Smith. 
“They’ve obviously seen the growth in the women’s game in Scotland and they appreciate now that we play in the top tier of Scottish football, where we’ve cemented our foothold in the top-six, and now they’re looking to help us progress further,” he said.
“We met with Aberdeen – they’ve had a lot of success in the community, obviously the men’s side is having a lot of success just now – and as a forward-thinking club they wanted to be part of the women’s game and help it develop. It’s obviously one of the fastest growing sports out there.”
Although the club hopes to one day challenge Glasgow City’s dominance, Smith’s ambition is tempered with realism. “That would be our ultimate goal,” he said. “That’s potentially a season or two away, we’re slowly putting actions in place to go and try and compete with City and Hibs. But it’s not only Aberdeen who are progressing, it’s City, Hibs, Rangers, Spartans.”
Although the agreement only involves the respective senior sides, Smith says the deal has helped to generate a “buzz around the club” from top to bottom. The symbolism, for example, of the senior men and women playing in the same kit is not lost on Smith, or Aberdeen FC Ladies’ youth players. 
“The agreement is a real positive for us,” said Smith. “It’s given the players a real lift. By our premier team increasing, it does give the younger players, from primary school up, the boost that they can come through the ranks and eventually be playing in the Scottish Women’s Premier League.”

David Kelly | YFS South East Region Journalist
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