England Lionesses send open letter to Tory Party candidates calling for all girls to play football at school
The open letter read: "Women’s football has come a long way. But it still has a long way to go"
England’s victorious Euro 2022 players have urged the next Prime Minister to give every girl in the nation the chance to follow in their footsteps.
In an open letter to Conservative Party leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, signed by all 23 members of the squad which beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in Sunday’s final, the Lionesses have called on the Government “to make a huge difference”.
In it, they say: “On Sunday evening history was made. The dreams of 23 women came true. England became European Champions for the first time in history.
“Throughout the Euros, we as a team spoke about our legacy and goal to inspire a nation. Many will think that this has already been achieved, but we see this as only the beginning.
“We are looking to the future. We want to create real change in this country and we are asking you, if you were to become Prime Minister on 5 September, to help us achieve that change.”
The Lionesses pointed out that only 63 percent of girls can play football in school physical education lessons, and urge the Government to ensure girls have access to at least two hours of PE each week and the guidance of female teachers in the subject.
The letter continues: “This is something that we all experienced growing up. We were often stopped from playing, so we made our own teams, we travelled across the country and despite the odds, we just kept playing football.
“Women’s football has come a long way. But it still has a long way to go.”
A crowd of 87,192 – the biggest-ever attendance for any Euros match, men’s or women’s – watched Sunday’s game at Wembley with an average television audience of 11million joining them as the hosts ended their wait for silverware.
Skipper Leah Williamson and her team-mates quickly spoke about the legacy they wanted to leave behind, and their missive simply builds upon that.
It added: “We have made incredible strides in the women’s game, but this generation of school girls deserve more.
“They deserve to play football at lunchtime, they deserve to play football in PE lessons and they deserve to believe they can one day play for England. We want their dreams to also come true.
“This is an opportunity to make a huge difference. A change that will impact millions of young girls’ lives. We – the 23 members of the England Senior Women’s EURO squad – ask you to make it a priority to invest into girls’ football in schools, so that every girl has the choice.”
Both Ms Sunak and Mr Truss have committed to hosting a reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate England’s success should they become Prime Minister.
In response to the open letter, Mr Sunak's campaign said he would “love to see” all schools providing two hours of PE and would launch a review of women’s football immediately if he became Prime Minister.
A spokesman said: “Like the rest of the country, Rishi has been inspired by England’s performance at the Euros and wants to use their inspirational success to get more women and girls into the game.
“Rishi passionately believes in the importance of sport for children’s development and would love to see all schools provide two hours of PE a week.
“He has already said that he will tighten the accountability that surrounds the primary school PE and sport premium to make sure children are receiving the education they deserve, and has also said he will ask Ofsted to inspect sport in schools as part of every inspection.
“He has also committed to launch a review of women’s football immediately if he is made Prime Minister to make sure that all women and girls have the opportunity to take part in the beautiful game.”
While a spokeswoman for Ms Truss said: “The Lionesses’ Euros win and record-breaking Wembley attendance will have a lasting impact on women’s football.
“Every member of the team should be proud of their contribution and the path they have paved for the next generation of girls.
“Liz wants equal access to all sports for boys and girls, and supports campaigns such as the FA’s Let Girls Play campaign.
“She is committed to investigating what prevents schools from delivering the recommended minimum of two hours PE per week.
“As part of her forthcoming spending review, her government would have the opportunity to look at how best to deliver for girls in schools across the UK.”