Lionesses react to £600m government pledge for girls’ school sports

England’s Lionesses enjoyed the news that the government is pledging £600 million to try and create equal opportunities for girls playing sports at school.

This package comes as a result of an open letter penned by the England team following their Euro 2022 triumph. In this letter, the Lionesses wanted changes so every girl could play football at school.

On top of this, they demanded a minimum of two hours of PE a week, plus support for female PE teachers. Now, it appears that their desires will come to fruition.

The Government announced this funding on International Women’s Day, which coincides with the FA’s #LetGirlsPlay campaign. Thousands of girls will take part in FA-organised events at schools across the UK on 8 March.

Per a GOV.UK announcement, schools’ curriculums will now need to offer a minimum of two hours of PE. This will be at both primary and secondary school levels. Funding will also support after-school sports, further boosting activity options for youngsters.

The nationwide School Games Organisers will get £22 million, too.

Crucially, though, girls will have equal access to all sports – most notably football, as per the Lionesses’ request. Through these ground-breaking new measures, England are achieving a goal of the “legacy” that they want to create for women’s football.

Two of the key Lionesses driving the changes gave their reaction to the government’s announcement.

Lionesses on new funding for girls’ sports

Speaking to the national team website, Leah Williamson hailed the move as a “transformational change”.

“The success of the summer has inspired so many young girls to pursue their passion for football,” said the England captain. “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 longer than us as a team. On behalf of all Lionesses players, we 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.”

Meanwhile, Williamson’s Arsenal and national teammate, Lotte Wubben-Moy, wrote an open letter about the news. You can read the full version here.

“By making girls’ football more accessible, we have opened a crucial door for the growth of women’s football as a whole,” wrote Wubben-Moy. “And if we want to look at our Lionesses and see a team that represents the whole nation, I believe this is one among many key steps to ensuring our national team becomes more diverse, stronger, and more successful many years into the future.”

Finally, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shared his thoughts. He said (via BBC Sport): “Last year, the Lionesses’ victory changed the game.

“Young girls know when they take to the pitch that football is for them. 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.”

Featured image credit: Getty