International Women's Day
Celebrated on the 8th March annually, International Women's Day reflects on the progress made for women's rights and a gender-balanced world. In numerous organisations and federations, the empowerment of womenhas been rapidly increasing, and in football this is certainly the case. Women's football continues to grow in coverage, participation and quality.
The expansion of professional women's football has had a positive knock-on effect in terms of participation levels, coaching and subsequent quality on the football pitch. While the acceptance of it remains a challenge amongst the minority, there can be no question that the transition of how most people perceive women's football at each level is a continuously positive one. Last year's SSE Women's FA Cup Final had an attendance of 45,423; a record for the fourth consecutive season. For the Royals this season, our average attendance has been 894 at Adams Park. Our highest attendance this season so far was when we hosted West Ham at Madejski Stadium, an impressive 2148 fans came out on a Wednesday evening to show their support.
Manager Kelly Chambers
Inside the club, there is a lot to be proud of. Manager Kelly Chambers turned a cruciate ligament injury and resulting truncated playing career into a successful coaching one, overseeing the transition of Reading FC Women going from part-time to full-time. Also, during her tenure at the helm, the Royals have won the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division in 2013 and FA WSL 2 in 2015.
The Royals' top scorer this season with 15 goals so far, Fara Williams was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2016 for her services to both women's football and charity. England's most-capped player of all time also featured for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, reaching the Quarter-Finals. The midfielder has represented the Lionesses at three World Cups and four European Championships. Domestically, Williams has won two FA WSL 1 titles and as many FA Women's Cups and Premier League Cups.
There are a host of other Internationally-capped players amongst the Royals squad. Goalkeeper Grace Moloney, who has been at Reading since the age of 10, was handed her Irish debut three years ago. This season so far Moloney has kept a clean sheet in 6 games.
Midfielder Rachel Furness recently scored six goals in four games with Northern Ireland as they won bronze at the Alanya Gold City Women's Cup earlier this week.
Jade Moore, Jo Potter and Gemma Davison
Jade Moore, Jo Potter and Gemma Davison have all won many England caps, whilst another one of our forwards, Lauren Bruton, made her Lionesses debut in September last year.
Natasha Harding and Charlie Estcourt
Trio Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe and Charlie Estcourt are all regulars in the Welsh squad. Harding has over 50 caps for her country, whereas 20-year-old Estcourt made her full international debut at the age of just 16, scoring her first goal at 18. Rowe, currently injured, has also made several appearances for Wales.
January signing Rakel Honnudottir isn't far away from clocking 100 caps for Iceland. Finally, summer signing Sophie Howard has 12 Scottish caps, having switched her allegiance from Germany in 2017.
International Women's Day this year is a day to celebrate and embolden people to act towards gender balance using #BalanceforBetter. The growth in coverage and public interest towards women's football is one to be extremely proud of. Long may it continue to grow.