Much like our men’s team, our Women's Academy is a prized asset for Reading FC Women and captaining that Academy has been defender Kiera Skeels this season.
In October, the 16-year-old made her first step up to play in the blue and white of the senior side in a 3-2 cup win over Lewes.
And now, Skeels, who has been with the club since joining out Under-10s, has put pen to paper on a professional contract with the club.
Part of the England youth set-up – featuring in the Under-19s’ side that finished won three from three in a qualifying tournament last season – Skeels continues to demonstrate the pathway available to our Academy players into first team football at Reading FC Women.
"I am delighted that I am able to offer Kiera her first professional contract with us. This is what having a youth set up is about, moments like this," Reading FC Women boss Kelly Chambers said.
"Kiera has definitely earned her contract. She trained with the first team all of last season and I've seen her come on leaps and bounds and grow in confidence. She is undoubtedly a player who has a bright future in the game and I can't wait to see what more there is to come."
Reading FC Women are also delighted to announce that captain Tash Harding has signed a new contract at the club.
Having been given the armband by manager Kelly Chambers ahead of the start of the last Women’s Super League campaign, the Welsh international winger – who signed for the Royals from Liverpool back in January 2018 - has now committed her future to the club.
"Tash was an important player for me to keep, not just because she is my captain but for what she brings to the group both on and off the pitch," Chambers said.
"Tash very much understands where I want to take this team and is fully on board to help to try and achieve that. She has been a part of the squad for a few years now and has really become part of the family. There is still so much more to come from her and I can't wait to see that come out."
Besides Skeels’ deal, our trust in youth is also evident in tying down a new deal for 19-year-old Welsh defender Lily Woodham, who only penned her first professional deal with the club last summer.
Former Bristol City defender Woodham spent part of last season on loan at Charlton Athletic but is now back as a Royal and ready to make her mark on the 2020-21 campaign in RG2.
"I'm so glad that Lily decided to stay at the club,"Chambers added. "Lily is an exciting young prospect who has all the attributes to play in this league.
"After a loan spell last season, this season is Lily's time to step up and be an important part of the team. I can't wait to see what more we can get from her and watch her develop and grow."