Lionesses achieve landmark legacy goal
The Lionesses’ EURO legacy wish has been achieved today with a transformational Government announcement to help every girl in England follow in the team’s footsteps.
The game-changing decision to provide girls with equal access to football in schools, as part of an all-sports pledge, meets one of The FA’s key strategic objectives. It will significantly increase participation across the nation and build on the inspiration of England’s triumph at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.
It is a result of the open letter to former prime ministerial contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss signed by all 23 players in the England EURO winning squad days after the historic win at Wembley Stadium on 31 July 2022.
The letter voiced their collective belief on how school sport should change and how equal access should be created for every schoolgirl. Currently only 67% of all schools and 41% of secondary schools offer football equally to girls in PE lessons and only 46% of schools provide the same extracurricular opportunities as boys.
The letter sparked constructive dialogue between the players, The FA and Government – leading to today’s historic commitment.
As part of the announcement, the Government will make it clear to schools that they are expected to deliver a minimum of two hours of PE per week and ensure that girls have equal access to all school sport, including football.
The transformational change is backed by a multi-million-pound investment in school sport and afterschool activities – including over £600 million in funding over the next two academic years for the PE and Sport Premium and £22 million for the School Games Organisers network. This multi-year funding package provides schools across the country with the security and stability to make long-term plans for PE and school sport, including girls’ football.
The Government will also issue strengthened guidance to schools on how to spend this funding, including new guidelines on equal access. They have also created a new digital tool for the PE and Sport Premium in order to support schools and ensure they are using the funding to the best advantage of their pupils.
Schools that successfully deliver equal opportunities for girls and boys will be rewarded through the School Games Mark, which will assess parity of provision in PE and extracurricular sport.
The news comes on International Women’s Day and coincides with more than 200,000 girls joining The FA and Barclays’ Let Girls Play ‘Biggest Ever Football Session’ events in schools up and down the country.
The Let Girls Play campaign was launched in October 2021 to support The FA’s strategic ambition to provide girls with equal access to football. With their record-breaking investment into women's and girls’ football, Barclays’ role within the Girls' Football School Partnerships has been integral to support The FA’s ambition.
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Executive said: “The magic of last summer’s Euros victory can now live on with a legacy that has the ability to change the future of women’s football and positively impact society.
“Equal access for girls is one of The FA’s strategic ambitions and for such progress to be made is a very proud day. We’re all extremely grateful to the players for using their voice to deliver change and would like to place on record our thanks to Government for the positive measures announced today.”
Baroness Sue Campbell, The FA’s Director of Women’s Football said: “As soon as the final whistle was blown at Wembley on 31 July 2022, the players turned their attention to what they wanted their legacy from the tournament to be and what’s been announced today is as important as anything that was achieved on the pitch in the summer.
“We’re delighted that it will be made clear to schools that they should offer a minimum of two hours of PE and they must ensure that girls have equal access to all school sport, including football.
“The confirmation of long-term funding for the PE and Sport Premium and School Games Organisers, and strengthened guidance and monitoring of how that money is spent, will have a significant impact on participation and also the physical and emotional wellbeing of the nation’s children.
“We’re extremely grateful to the thousands of dedicated teachers and their schools and look forward to working with them as they continue to make a real difference to the lives of so many children across the country.
“A conversation led by Lotte Wubben-Moy and Leah Williamson on the bus from the Trafalgar Square celebrations has today delivered real change in society and the announcement is testament to their tenacity and excellent engagement with the Government. The FA are as proud of them as we have ever been.”
Leah Williamson, England women’s captain, said: “The success of the summer has inspired so many young girls to pursue their passion for football. We see it as our responsibility to open the doors for them to do so and this announcement makes that possible. This is the legacy that we want to live much longer than us as a team. On behalf of all the Lionesses players, we'd like to thank our teammate Lotte Wubben-Moy as a driving force behind this transformational change. We couldn’t be prouder to stand alongside her and we all look forward to seeing the impact this legacy creates.”
Lotte Wubben-Moy, England women’s international, said: “By making football more accessible to millions of girls across the nation, we have opened a crucial door for the growth of women’s football and women’s sport as a whole. I am proud to be part of something that will live on for generations to come. This is just the beginning.”