Reading FC Women manager hopeful of securing silverwareKelly Chambers, manager of Reading FC Women, is hopeful that the promotion celebrations will just be a warm-up event following the confirmation of their place in FA WSL 1 for the 2016 season.
The next target, according to Chambers, is going up as league champions. With three more matches to play – away at Millwall, Everton and Aston Villa – the prospect of claiming silverware is very much in their own hands.
Doncaster Rovers Belles currently sit three points ahead but have played a game more and have an inferior goal-difference – meaning that a maximum return from those three fixtures should secure the title for Reading.
“It was a bit surreal for us – we knew what we needed to do over the next four games, in that we only needed to get four points from a maximum of 12 to secure promotion,” Chambers said. “But the results went our way yesterday which meant we were able to secure promotion yesterday just by getting the three points against Watford.”
“It has always been a target for the girls to win the league – yesterday was a nice celebration to confirm that we’re going to be in WSL 1 next year, but we know that we have got three cup finals to try and take the title as well. It should be an exciting end to the season.
“It’s in our own hands and we’re not expecting to be gifted anything from Doncaster, because they’re a strong side. So I’m expecting it to go right to wire.”
Competing in WSL 1 will bring a whole new challenge to the team next season. But they have already had a glimpse by facing two of the toughest teams in the country in Chelsea and Arsenal in their Continental Cup group this season, and were only defeated by the odd goal in each fixture.
“This season has been huge – it means we’re going to be playing in the top level of women’s football in the country and that’s nice for the club,” she continued. “It also means that we can play regularly against some of the best teams in the country – we’ve shown this season that we can compete with them when we met a few WSL 1 teams in the Continental Cup this season.
“It is going to be an exciting 18 months ahead for us. We have got a strong squad now – I’ve got a big squad too and that has helped us to gain promotion. It hasn’t just been 11 players on the pitch; my full squad of 24 have all stepped in and played their part this season. We may need to strengthen in one or two areas, but it’ll be interesting to see how the girls step up and how they do next season.
“And now it will be nice to have the girls in training more and see how they can develop even further than they have this season, when we’ve only been training twice a week. It’s exciting to see what the future will bring.
“We were close to possibly being in with a shout of getting promotion last year. The girls have really bonded more this season and really worked together and worked hard for each other. They have put in the hard work on the training ground and on the pitch to be where they are today, so it’s a credit to them.”
With record viewership figures for the Women’s World Cup this year, coupled with England’s success in the competition and heightened media coverage, it is a good time for Reading FC Women to be in the ascendency.
Chambers continued: “Women’s football has grown even more off the back of the World Cup – but the WSL 1 is a whole new ball game for us in terms of media coverage. We could potentially have live games on BT Sport and all games are filmed for the WSL highlights show.
“We have a slot on BBC Radio Berkshire every Friday evening, and our media coverage generally has grown this year even while we have been in WSL 2. But next year will be nice so that we can show people what we’re about a lot more than we do at the moment, and people will get to know us a bit more.”