Reading FC Women manager Kelly Chambers has called the 2019-20 pre-season schedule one of the best to date. But the highlight for Chambers was a day in which her squad trained with the Royal Air Force.
“The best thing we have done in pre-season was definitely the day we had at the Royal Air Force at Benson,” Chambers said. “At first, I wasn’t sure how the day would go, but by the end of it, I can truly say it was the best thing I have ever done with a group of players.”
The day began with the team being put through their paces by the RAF drill instructors in the gym, with circuit training that included spin bikes, rowing machines and weights. The players worked in teams to complete each stage of the circuit, sharing the workload of each activity equally, and spurring each other on throughout.
From there, the harnesses and hardhats went on and the team took to the high ropes in team activities that saw them coming together to physically and emotionally pull each other up the ropes, as well as encouraging each other to take a leap from the very top. Nerves were tested and some fears were certainly conquered as the squad attacked the high ropes, taking it in turns to hold their teammates steady from the ground as they traversed the heights.
“As the day went on, it just showed how strong and together we are as a team,” co-vice-captain Remi Allen said. “There’s times when people were at rock bottom and the team are picking them up and pushing them on. It’s great to see and for the future of the team, I think it’s really important.”
After lunch, the team donned full camouflage gear as they worked in groups to carry life-size dummies on stretchers from the RAF base to the training field, before dragging them across the course and back. The instructors took the team to their physical limits in the field-drills, as they flipped truck tires and rolled, squatted and crawled their way through the assault courses.
“It tested the group individually and collectively in so many different ways,” said manager Chambers. “Physically the girls were put through challenges that they had never faced, players and staff conquered different fears and phobias, but best of all seeing how this group can come together to get through anything and compete tasks and challenges they had ahead of them, the Reading way.”
The Royals look to build on a successful couple of seasons, finishing 4th and 5th in the Women’s Super League in 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively, reaching the Semi-Final of the FA Women’s Cup last season, missing out narrowly on the final after a penalty shootout to West Ham.
It all starts again this weekend with a trip to visit Liverpool at Prenton Park, before our first home fixture against Man City at Adams Park on Sunday 15th September.