The United Kingdom government will put £600 million toward equal athletic opportunities for girls as a result of a push from the England women’s national team.
“We want every young girl in the nation to be able to play football at school,” the Lionesses wrote an open letter to government leaders last August after winning England’s first Euros title.
Just 67% of schools offer equal access to soccer in their physical education curriculum, according to the country’s Football Association. And just 46% of schools offer girls the same extracurricular activities as boys.
With the new standards set by the government, schools will be required to offer at least two hours of physical education per week as well as equal access to sporting activities — including soccer.
“The success of the summer has inspired so many young girls to pursue their passion for football,” England captain Leah Williamson said. “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.”
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said that England’s Euros win “can now live on with a legacy,” adding that the government’s plans have “the ability to change the future of women’s football.”
An announcement that will change women's football in England forever, and the start of something truly special. 👏Take it away, @leahcwilliamson and @lottewubbenmoy...#LetGirlsPlay | #IWD2023 pic.twitter.com/OQaOPr9u59— Lionesses (@Lionesses) March 8, 2023
An announcement that will change women's football in England forever, and the start of something truly special. 👏Take it away, @leahcwilliamson and @lottewubbenmoy...#LetGirlsPlay | #IWD2023 pic.twitter.com/OQaOPr9u59
The £600 million funding package will support the improvements to the physical education curriculum and extracurricular activities in primary schools.
“Last year the Lionesses’ victory changed the game,” U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said. “Young girls know when they take to the pitch that football is for them and, thanks to the Lionesses, they too could be a part of the next generation to bring it home for their country. We want schools to build on this legacy.”