The Lionesses wrote an open letter to call out government apathy to girls’ football
On Sunday night, the action may have been mostly on the pitch at Wembley, as the amazing Lionesses passed, dribbled and scored their way to sporting history, but at the keyboards and smart phones of MPs, they were flexing their muscles jumping on the bandwagon.
Football has come home! A stunning victory by the @Lionesses.
Huge congratulations to Sarina, Leah and the whole team. Football pitches across the country will be filled as never before by girls and women inspired by your triumph.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 31, 2022
Fantastic win, epic achievement & the whole country is proud of the lionesses! pic.twitter.com/vU09HDc6ts
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) July 31, 2022
Ich liebe meine deutschen Freunde sehr, aber ich liebe diesen Sieg mehr. pic.twitter.com/sgy7zMnflJ
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) July 31, 2022
While some will truly have been swept up in the moment, others were definitely only in it for the brownie points.
We are all gripped here watching the @Lionesses!
Come on England! pic.twitter.com/QKeN0uluyB
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 31, 2022
Huge congratulations to the @Lionesses on their Euros win.
They haven’t just won the tournament they’ve won the hearts of the whole country.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) July 31, 2022
It must have been really annoying for Rishi Sunak to have that photographer standing right in the way of the television.
When journalists checked, it turned out that the Department for Education’s policy on girls’ football fell short of Westminster’s apparent support for the adult game.
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) August 2, 2022
‘Government says schoolgirls will not be guaranteed same football lessons as boys – but that girls can be offered the chance to play a ‘comparable sport’ instead.’
Gary Lineker summed it up.
It always happens, but rarely have they jumped off a football bandwagon so quickly. 🙄 https://t.co/23unLzHflE
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) August 3, 2022
He wasn’t the only one left disappointed but far from surprised.
After Sunday’s fantastic result I called on government not to miss an open goal on boosting women and girls participation in sport, including girls football in school yet Ministers aren’t even on the pitch. https://t.co/VtnCUk4J90 https://t.co/A2yGpez5jm
— Lucy Powell MP (@LucyMPowell) August 3, 2022
The very definition of a missed opportunity https://t.co/Efw3KZeok3
— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) August 2, 2022
More than 17 million in the U.K. watched England women win the Euros. Wembley stadium was full. But still those in power refuse to make small but significant steps to encourage the women’s game. Very sad indeed. https://t.co/mtxAixZelJ
— Matt Sibson (@MattSibson) August 3, 2022
The Lionesses took action, going straight to the two people with the most potential to shape policy in the new parliament – the leadership candidates.
"We see this as only the beginning."
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) August 3, 2022
In case that’s difficult to read, here’s what it says.
Dear Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
On Sunday evening history was made. The dreams of 23 women came true. England became European champions for the first time in history.
Throughout the Euros, we as a team spoke about our legacy and goal to inspire a nation. Many will think that this has already been achieved, but we see this only as the beginning.
We are looking to the future. We want to create real change in this country and we are asking you, if you were to become Prime Minister on 5 September, to help us achieve that change.
We want every young girl in the nation to be able to play football at school.
Currently only 63% of girls can play football in PE lessons. 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.
Women’s football has come a long way. But it still has a long way to go.
We ask you and your government to ensure that all girls have access to a minimum of two hours a week PE. Not only should we be offering football to all girls, we also need to invest in and support female PE teachers too.
Their role is crucial and we need to give them the resources to provide girls’ football sessions. They are key role models from which so many young girls can flourish.
We have made incredible strides in the women’s game, but this generation of school girls deserve more. They deserve to play football at lunchtime, they deserve to play football in PE lessons and they deserve to believe that they can one day play for England. We want their dreams to also come true.
This is an opportunity to make a huge difference. A change that will impact millions of young girls’ lives. We – the 23 members of the England Senior Women’s Euro squad – ask you to make it a priority to invest into girls’ football in schools, so that every girl has the choice.
Regards, The 2022 UEFA Women’s EURO England Squad.
People were solidly behind the sentiment.
— Tom Peck (@tompeck) August 3, 2022
My primary school self who petitioned the headteacher for girls football, to be told it was a 'man's game' is overcome. https://t.co/3B5h4ZdkE8
— Alison McGovern (@Alison_McGovern) August 3, 2022
The Lionesses are right: we must seize this moment.
Too many girls and women have already missed out on the opportunity to play sport.
I've written to the government calling for an Equal Access Guarantee for school sport. https://t.co/gz5aQY6rtj
— Bridget Phillipson (@bphillipsonMP) August 3, 2022
— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) August 3, 2022
We have an extraordinary generation of sports stars willing to enter the political fray to make things happen – it's such a sea change. https://t.co/SV1IyRjJJ6
— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) August 3, 2022
"We want their dreams to also come true."
This group of players should be in Government. It's Lionesses begging Donkeys. https://t.co/Q9yIcHGlqI
— Marty Lawrence (@TeaAndCopy) August 3, 2022
Excellent. I like to think the subtext here is "Stop using the reflected glory of our success to further your political ambitions and actually do something to support our fucking game x" https://t.co/0WHAas7UkI
— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) August 3, 2022
Both candidates responded quickly and publicly.
— Liz for Leader (@trussliz) August 3, 2022
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) August 3, 2022
Even the current Secretary of State for Education got on board – though why he needs to meet the team to do his job is a mystery.
Cannot express how proud I was watching you win.
Very keen to see how we can get more girls playing sport in general and football in particular in our schools.
More than happy to meet and discuss how to take this forward. https://t.co/Y9QpTdcoTt
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) August 3, 2022
So, we can carve equal access to football in stone, right?