England Women have written an open letter to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak – one of whom will be the next UK prime minister – urging them to make “real change” after their historic Euro 2022 victory by giving every girl the chance to play football at school.
The Lionesses won their first major trophy on Sunday as they beat Germany in extra-time at Wembley.
The tournament sparked huge interest in women’s football around the country and Women's Super League clubs have seen a large spike in demands for tickets for next season.
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However, the government has so far refused calls to add football to the national curriculum for girls at school.
A report earlier this month by England Football, part of the Football Association, showed that just 44% of secondary schools offer girls equal access to football in PE lessons.
The Lionesses say women’s football still has a “long way to go” and “school girls deserve more”. They also write that this is “an opportunity to make a huge difference”.
Here’s the letter in full from the Lionesses to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, who are the last two candidates to take over from Boris Johnson as prime minister in September.
"Dear Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss,
"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 September 5, to help us achieve that change.
"We want every young girl in the nation to be able to play football at school.
"Currently only 63% of girls can play football in PE lessons. The reality is we are inspiring young girls to play football, only for many to end up going to school and not being able to play.
"This is something 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.
"We ask you and your government to ensure that all girls have access to a minimum of two hours a week of PE. Not only should we be offering football to all girls, we also need to invest and support female PE teachers too. Their role is crucial and we need to give them the resources to provide girls’ football sessions. They are key role models from which so many young girls can flourish.
"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."
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