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Hunty's Column: Reading FC Women - Interview with Becky Jane

We all know about the Jaap Stam revolution, but are you aware of another that has been gathering pace in the past few years?

Five years ago, Reading Women were relegated to the third tier, but are now looking forward to a second season in WSL1. Someone who has been there the whole time is Becky Jane, our attacking right-back who joined from Chelsea all those years ago.

I had the pleasure of talking to her about her journey to become a professional footballer and the club's development over the past few years.

Her personal highlights included being fans' Player of the Year this season and winning a point with a miraculous clearance off the line against Notts County in a 1-1 draw - the first game my little girl and I went to!

But of course, the big one was staying up in the top league this season which was a massive achievement!

Becky and the other players went from part time to full time professionals last season which she feels has had a huge impact on her game.

Previously, she worked for a local council doing sport in schools, at the same time training twice a week. Now, she's gone full time, with a mixture of gym, training and match-related training six days of the week. Becky freely admits this is much better as she hates having too much free time because she gets bored!

The introduction of full time strength conditioning coaching to the club has also really helped the team, which Becky feels is built on work, fitness and togetherness.

The Quality Gap

Coming up from WSL2 to WSL1, Becky thinks the gap is massive, especially with regards to goal scoring opportunities as players have to be far more clinical in the top league. She admits that a good season for the Royals ladies next year would be to once again stay up and hopefully push further up the table.

She also believes that all WSL2 and WSL1 clubs need to have full-time professionals for the standard to continue to develop. That can only be helped by England having a good Euro 2017!

The top clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City have the money and resources, but Reading has team spirit. The high profile signing of Mandy Van Den Berg, the Dutch national team captain, has really set the benchmark for next season, and this is something that Becky feels will increase competition even more for places in the team and put Reading on the map!

The Changing Game

Next year, after a short spring competition, the league will move from summer to winter to fit alongside the men's version. According to Becky, this will be a big thing for the women's game and the opportunity to play regularly rather than going weeks without a match as currently happens can only be a positive.

Becky currently coaches the Reading FC girls' under 10's, something she loves and hopes to inspire in the role. According to her, at that age in a young player's development, sacrifices have to be made. For instance, if training clashes with a birthday party or even Halloween, training comes first. When she eventually hangs her boots up, Becky would like to pursue a career in coaching.

Wen she was younger she always wanted to play football, her inspiration was Rachel Yankey when she was a youngster at Fulham, who were one of the first clubs to go semi-professional. Moving to attacking right-back rather than the striker she wanted to be when she started her career, Becky is loving playing every week and hopes her consistent form means the England call-up happens one day - but at the moment she's focused on just performing each week for Reading!

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Personally I think it would be great if we could have the chance for the occasional double header on match day at the Madejski, that would give all fans the chance to see all their heroes play on the same day rather than having to travel to Wycombe.

However if you do get the chance to go to Adams Park, you will not meet a nicer bunch of players, staff, and fans who really do the club proud. You might even hear the fans' chant in honour of Becky, which she loves and admits is one of the most catchy at the club!

This is a team going places, so do yourself a favour and get down there and watch them - you will not regret it!

Urz!

-Hunty