Is Reading's Kelly Chambers the most hard-working coach in the game?

By Adam WhittyBBC Radio Berkshire
Kelly Chambers
Kelly Chambers started work at Reading aged 16 before guiding the team to Women's Super League One last October

Kelly Chambers has devoted almost half of her life to Reading Women and has overseen the most important transformation in the club's history.

Since the inception of the club 10 years ago, the former Reading captain has taken the club from part time to full time in the Women's Super League.

An anterior cruciate ligament injury ended her playing career but prompted Chambers into management in 2012.

Chambers' quest for success has seen her take on almost every job title.

"The club has been close to my heart for a long time," said Chambers, 30, who currently works as both the club's director of football and first-team manager.

"If I look back to 2006 when the women's team was formed, you would not have ever dreamt of it being here," she told BBC Radio Berkshire.

"It has been a lot of hours, but it was not something that I was going to let fall.

"I would say I'm a workaholic but it is more because of my drive and where I want this club to go."

Half a lifetime's commitment

Chambers is in her second spell as boss, having taken charge of the club when it was in the third tier of English football.

Jayne Ludlow became manager after the club reached Women's Super League Two, but then left to become manager of Wales.

Chambers took charge once more, masterminding promotion to the top flight with a group of players working part time.

"If you think of all the roles that a WSL team needs to have, it was just me that was trying to manage that," she added.

Reading Women as Champions
Chambers' Reading celebrate winning the Women's Super League 2 title last season

"I was able to do day-to-day stuff in the office and then training in the evenings. We only trained four hours a week and had to produce quality on a Sunday."

Jon Horton, the club's former general manager, says Chambers was the driving force behind their meteoric rise.

"She's taken it from scratch and taken them all the way to the top tier," said Horton.

"It's clear she has devoted her life to get women's football at Reading to the highest level."

A Royal workload

That devotion was tested earlier this year, when Horton left the club to join Ludlow's Wales setup.

Kelly Chambers and Jon Horton
Jon Horton worked alongside Chambers as general manager and goalkeeping coach

It came towards the end of the busiest period in the club's history.

Many players had signed full-time contracts and they had completed an ambitious move to the 12,000-seater stadium Adams Park.

And while the club searched for Horton's replacement, Chambers had little choice but to assume control of that role too.

Kelly Chambers
Kelly Chambers ran the club - on and off the pitch - during one of the busiest periods in the club's history

"She is seven months pregnant and in the office first thing in the morning and is the last one to leave," said Reading's current club captain and club secretary Kirsty McGee.

"She pushes things off the pitch that you do not always see."

Moving in the right direction

Chambers' task has become a little less frantic after Russell Fraser was appointed the club's new general manager on 3 May.

"There's now someone looking after the club off the pitch, and driving it where it needs to go," said Chambers

"I can now focus solely on the football, and making sure we get more and more points on the board."

Kelly Chambers
Reading Women have made a solid start in their first WSL 1 season

The hard work will not stop at reaching WSL 1 however, with Chambers and her staff pointing to lofty ambitions for the future.

"I wanted this club play in the top flight of women's football, and we're there," she added.

"But now I want us to be pushing for the top of the league, and even the Champions League."

Reading Women's short-term aim is to simply establish themselves in WSL 1 for years to come yet.

If the hard work of Chambers is anything to go by, they certainly have a chance.

Top Stories