Lionesses campaign pays off as girls granted equal access to sport

Girls will be granted equal access to all school sports as part of a package of measures unveiled by the government following a campaign by the Lionesses.

Schools will be told they must deliver a minimum of two hours of PE each week and that girls and boys should be able to play the same sports in lessons and extra-curricular clubs.

It comes after England's Lionesses squad launched a campaign urging the government to pass measures to ensure that all girls get the chance to play football at school following their Euros 2022 win last summer.

England women's captain Leah Williamson said: "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."

The announcement comes just over six months after the government was accused of jeopardising the Lionesses' legacy by overseeing the continued sell-off of school playing fields.

Data obtained by the Liberal Democrats showed that 94 schools had sold their playing fields since January 2015, although some have been replaced with indoor sports facilities.

The move unveiled by the government coincides with International Women's Day.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "Last year the Lionesses' victory changed the game. 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."

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The government said the measures would be backed by over £600million in funding over the next two academic years, specifically designed to help improve the quality of PE and sports in primary schools.

Following their 2-1 victory against Germany last summer, the Lionesses called on then-Conservative leader candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to ensure that young girls have access and support to play football at school.

In an open letter co-signed by all members of the squad, they wrote that women's football "has come a long way but it still has a long way to go".