Alessia Russo on how Lionesses want to push for more sporting opportunities for girls and their letter to the next PM

·3-min read

England's Alessia Russo has said the Lionesses want to help inspire the next generation of girls and help push for those who want to get involved in football but "feel like they can't".

Lioness striker Russo, 23, spoke to Sky News about an open letter penned by the team to Conservative leadership hopefuls which called for more sporting opportunities for girls.

The letter, published on Wednesday, included a plea for a greater focus on PE lessons, with demands for schoolgirls to have access to a minimum of two hours a week of sport classes.

It follows the Lionesses victory on Sunday where they beat Germany 2-1 at Wembley, in front of a record-breaking crowd of more than 80,000 people.

The Manchester United forward, who helped send England to the final with an audacious backheel goal against Sweden, said it was "crazy that it's not a thing already" at schools.

She said: "I remember that when I was a kid my route into football was through boys football, which was ok for me but other girls might not want to get involved unless it's a girls team, which is completely understandable.

"We want to help push this, for the young girls out there who want to get involved in football but feel like they can't."

Speaking four days after the Lionesses were crowned Euro 2022 champions, Russo added the importance of role models for young girls.

She said as a female athlete, she wants to "inspire girls and the next generation".

All 23 members of the England women's team called on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to prioritise female football because "this generation of schoolgirls deserve more".

The letter warned that while women's football has come a long way, "it still has a long way to go".

It continued: "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 that 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."

Both Conservative candidates responded to the Lionesses call and have pledged to take action.

The foreign secretary said she is "committed to investigating" what prevents schools from delivering a minimum of two hours of PE per week, while Mr Sunak pledged to "tighten" accountability around PE and said he would ask Ofsted to inspect sports in schools as part of inspections.

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The final set various records and was watched by a crowd of 87,192 - the biggest-ever attendance for any Euros game, men's or women's, and sparked multiple conversations about improving access for women across sports.

The Lionesses are set to play four-time world champions the United States in a friendly at Wembley in October, subject to the Lionesses securing the 2023 World Cup qualification in September.

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