Associated with Reading Football Club since the age of 11, Shelley Strange has an affiliation with the Berkshire side in both a playing and coaching capacity.
Representing the women’s academy side as a child, Shelley came through the system before turning her focus to coaching after completing a two-year apprenticeship with the Sky Bet Championship outfit upon leaving school.
It has taken 15 years, with plenty of highs and lows throughout, but her recent appointment to the club’s academy coaching staff marked the first woman to take up such a role at Reading.
However, it was a role that came with considerable hard work and dedication – including becoming the first woman to manage a Hellenic Men’s team over 10 years ago. Although derogatory comments followed in the media, it gave Shelley a platform to showcase her talent.
She said: “At the time the comments were unhelpful to say the least. One in particular I remember said ‘at least when it’s Shelley’s turn to do the kit, it will come back nicely ironed’.
“I received educational training from Women in Football and it was incredible beneficial. I now know how to approach these kind of situations, and I believe gender-specific courses can help.
“The thoughts surrounding women in sport are without doubt improving, but there is a long way to go and better education on the subject is crucial.”
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