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A whole generation of girls have been inspired by the Lionesses, but will they be offered the same opportunities as the boys?
The Lionesses brought football home on Sunday, inspiring women on and off the pitch.
Winning 2-1 against Germany in extra time, the most heartwarming part of the entire tournament – bar Chloe Kelly’s iconic shirtless celebration of the winning goal – are all the young girls encouraged to try more sport.
While it is definitely the representation women’s football needed – the final set an all-time attendance record high – more clearly needs to be done. Yesterday, MP Nadia Whittome shared that, according to the FA, only 63% of schools offer girls’ football in PE lessons and only 40% offer girls regular extracurricular football.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the gap between men’s and women’s football is similar in schools, and that girls are not offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts. That said, it needs to change.
Football personality Ian Wright has pushed the message home further, saying during BBC Sport coverage: “If girls are not allowed to play football in their PE – just like the boys can – what are we doing?”
He continued: “We have got to make sure they are able to play and get the opportunity to do so.”
While only 40% of secondary schools in the UK offer girls the same access to football via after-school clubs as boys, there is a difference between primary and secondary school, too. FA figures show that 72% of girls play as much football as boys in primary school, but this figure drops to 44% while in secondary school.
Back in 2020, the FA set out a new goal, Inspiring Positive Change. The 2024 goal is for every primary school-aged girl to have equal access to football in school and in clubs.
The FA state that “at a practical level, this means embedding football for girls in schools, as part of the PE curriculum and in after-school sessions.”
By 2024 the FA hopes to see: “90% of schools (primary and secondary) in England to be part of The FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships network”. “A teenage-girl-specific national football program rolled out across England” including “over 1,000 clubs across England providing a complete pathway1 for girls”. Most importantly, “the delivery of the female-friendly club training program across the country”.
Here’s to all the little girls watching the Lionesses, having a team to play for and not losing momentum.