Lionesses captain Leah Williamson has hailed the potential for equal sport opportunities for girls in schools. A new rule requires schools in England to provide equal access to sports, including football, and provide at least two hours of physical education each week. The school sport announcement came on International Women’s Day.
As part of the England women’s football team’s mission to create a legacy after their Euro 2022 success, squad members wrote an open letter to government, led by Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy. The result is £600 million of investment over two academic years.
Reaction to the school sport package
Williamson says the Lionesses aim to “open doors” for young girls following last summer’s triumph, starting with changes in school sport. She told the BBC “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.”
How the situation is currently
Football Association figures reveal that only 67% of schools and 41% of secondary schools provide equal access to football in physical education lessons, and only 46% of schools offer the same extracurricular activities for girls as boys.
Whilst 72% of girls play as much football as boys in primary school, the figure plummets to 44% in secondary school.
What the package involves
The funding package will cover both school sport and after-school activities, while an additional £57m will be made available to open up sports facilities outside school hours. In addition, the School Games Organisers network will receive £22m.
The announcement coincides with International Women’s Day, which sees more than 200,000 girls participating in the FA’s Let Girls Play events in schools throughout the country. Schools that effectively provide equal chances and opportunities for boys and girls will be recognised with the School Games Mark as part of the scheme.