Aberdeen FC Women co-manager Emma Hunter admits it is a huge relief that the Dons’ SWPL 1 dream remains alive.
Scottish Women’s Football confirmed last week that SWPL 2 would be played to a finish with teams allowed to begin contact training from May 17 with games expected to begin before the end of the month.
The Dons sit seven points clear at the top of the table after 10 games as they chase back-to-back promotions.
The SWPL 2 sides are aiming to complete the second round of fixtures by July 4, while the leagues below SWPL 2 have been declared null and void.
Hunter is pleased the chance to win promotion to the top flight of Scottish women’s football has not been taken away from them.
Hunter, whose side have not played a competitive game since beating Kilmarnock 5-0 on December 13, said “It was lots of different emotions.
“We have been waiting for so long so it was a bit of an anti-climax in a way but at the same time it was a relief to finally get a date.
“Hopefully it all goes to plan. We are looking forward to it.
“Ideally, we all wanted to get back to contact training sooner.
“It has been challenging.
“I think it is going to have been eight weeks of non-contact training.
“There is only so much you can do to prepare for matches when you’ve got no contact.
“This has been an unbelievably bizarre year.
“We just take what we can get and make sure we are prepared as possible.
“The players have been as professional as possible.
“People sometimes view professionalism as getting paid for playing but these players don’t.
“But they have still shown a huge amount of professionalism in how they have dealt with this whole situation.
“They have kept working hard while waiting for that date.
“It has been a long time. We have been waiting five months.
“With no information, it has been very difficult.
“You are wondering if it is ever going to happen so it has been a bit of a rollercoaster.
“The team have dealt with it brilliantly, even when we were doing fitness classes on Zoom calls from home.
“They deserve a lot of credit and they are really excited about getting back.”
Hunter said she always remained hopeful SWPL 2 would get the green light to be played to a finish as they had already completed one round of fixtures, whereas teams in Championship North had managed to complete no more than three fixtures.
She said: “We are still really playing for something.
“We started the season so well.
“We have played a whole round of fixtures already so we were always of the mindset that if the season was called we would still get the promotion as we had played the full round of fixtures.
“But you are never sure so it has been really difficult.
“We were looking for back-to-back promotions which is what we have all been fighting for over the last couple of years.
“It has been the aim ever since we became affiliated with the club.
“It is a big thing for us and it is still in our hands.
“We have been given an idea of the dates. If everything goes to plan we can resume at the end of May which means we would have six weeks with maybe one week as back-up.
“It will be a really tight schedule.
“As far as I’m aware, we will play the fixtures in the same order as when we stopped.
“We know who we will face but we just don’t have the dates yet.”
Hunter says it would be a proud moment to lead the Dons into SWPL 1 alongside co-manager Stuart Bathgate.
And she hopes the Red Army lend their support to the women’s team as they chase silverware.
She said: “When I first got the role the clear goal was always to get the club competing in SWPL 1.
“We feel Aberdeen should be competing in that league and we want to compete against the best teams in Scotland.
“We think we have the standard to compete at that level.
“We are not naïve. We know we still have eight games to go to get there.
“We won’t take our eye off the ball. We will do everything we can to make sure we don’t lose control of that lead at the top.
“It is a cliché but we have to take each game as it comes.
“If we get to SWPL 1 then we will start to focus on that but we aren’t taking it for granted.”
She added: “The men’s season is about to end as we are about to start a historic journey for our team.
“Hopefully all Aberdeen fans will get behind the women’s team.
“We might actually get fans to our games because we are playing in June and July.
“The women’s team are out there fighting for the club to get that recognition.
“The support from fans would be huge for us.
“We want to do the club proud.
“The women’s team has had such a hard time and we have been left out in the cold for so long.
“It would be great if people step up and get behind us.”