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Lioness legacy leads to government pledge to increase PE access for girls

Leah Williamson

PFA member Leah Williamson has welcomed a new government commitment to provide equal access to all sports in PE for boys and girls and to deliver a minimum of two hours of PE per week.

The government pledge is the result of an open letter written by the Lionesses the day after their historic Euro 2022 victory to then prime ministerial contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. All 23 players in the winning squad signed the letter, which expressed their belief that boys and girls should have equal access to sport in schools.

England Captain Williamson has welcomed the pledge which has been announced on International Women’s Day: “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.”

The proposal sets out a minimum of two hours of PE a week to be made available to boys and girls and would provide £600m of funding over the next two years to improve PE in primary schools, particularly aimed at girls, disadvantaged pupils and pupils with special educational needs.

In the UK, figures currently show that only 67% of all schools offer football equally to girls in PE lessons, dropping to 41% when evaluating just secondary schools. In addition, overall only 46% of schools provide the same extracurricular opportunities as boys.Schools which successfully deliver equal opportunities for girls and boys will be rewarded through the School Games Mark.

England and Arsenal defender Lotte Wubben-Moy 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.”

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