England’s triumphant Euro 2022 winning squad have called for “real change” to follow their historic success at Wembley and have demanded for increased investment in women’s football in an open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, the candidates in the Conservative leadership contest.
In a letter signed by all 23 players, captain Leah Williamson and her team asked the next prime minister of the United Kingdom “to make it a priority to invest into girls’ football in schools” after the Lionesses became the first England team in 56 years to win a major tournament.
Over 17 million people watched England’s win over Germany in the final on Sunday, while the Lionesses have also sold out Wembley in just over 24 hours after announcing a friendly match against the world champion United States in October.
But the team have demanded that their impact is felt in the grassroots levels as the Lionesses called on improvements in participation, asking for the government to ensure that all girls have access to a minimum of two hours of PE a week in schools and are offering football to all girls in the country.
The letter read: “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 as only 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 2hrs 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 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.”