Posted: Wed, 15 Mar 2023 15:30
A record 285,000 girls from schools across England took part in the FA and Barclays' Let Girls Play Biggest Ever Football Session.
On the day the Prime Minister announced that every girl in England is set to be given equal access to football and school sport as part of an all-sports pledge, meeting one of the FA's key strategic objectives, the event was a massive success.
Last year, 90,000 girls took part in the inaugural Biggest Ever Football Session, and after an incredible year for women's football, with England winning UEFA Women's EURO 2022, the momentous occasion and efforts of the team have now delivered a true long-lasting societal change.
From Northumberland to Cornwall, sessions took place all over the country to signify the importance of unlocking equal opportunities for girls to play football in their schools and communities.
A record number of primary and secondary schools came together to deliver the Biggest Ever Football Session and highlight the demand for girls' football, showcasing just how important the announcement by the Government is on new standards for equal access to sports.
Sue Campbell, the FA's director of women's football, said: "The record number of girls taking part in our Let Girls Play Biggest Ever Football Session this year is simply remarkable. We have tripled the number of girls taking part compared to last year, which just shows the increased demand for girls to play football. Barclays investment into the Girls' Football School Partnerships has been integral in supporting our ambition to get more girls playing football.
"We welcome the announcement by the Government today that there will be equal access for girls to play sport including football in schools. I am so incredibly proud of the England Senior Women's squad and their continued effort and determination to drive equal access for girls, and the next generation of Lionesses."
Sasha Wiggins, Barclays Group head of public policy and corporate responsibility, said: "It was inspiring to see so many girls take part in the Biggest Ever Football Session, especially today, on International Women's Day and on the day the government has made a significant commitment to ensuring equal access to sport in schools.
"We know that playing football supports the physical and mental wellbeing of young people, whilst also teaching them valuable life skills, which is why we are delighted that today's announcement directly supports the investment Barclays has made to secure the infrastructure and long-term sustainability of girls football"
Ian Wright, a former player and Barclays Football Ambassador, added: "This is the legacy we spoke about during the EUROs. And this latest push is another step towards letting girls play football if that's what they want to do.
"Our national game is for everyone and 285,000 girls wanted to play today - I was proud to be part of it! There is still a lot more work to do but this is a massive positive step forward."
Kelly Smith, Former player and Barclays Football Ambassador, added: "I dreamed of being a footballer from such a young age and it was so hard to achieve it back then.
"Today's amazing event proves just how many girls want to play football and therefore how important it is to give them that opportunity. I'm so happy to be part of anything that promotes equal access to the beautiful game and I'm so proud to be a former Lioness, even more so with the current squad successes in pushing for girls football in schools."
Currently only 67 per cent of all schools and 41 per cent of secondary schools offer football equally to girls in PE lessons and only 46 per cent of schools provide the same extracurricular opportunities as boys.
England Football's ambition, as seen in the Inspiring Positive Change strategy, is to have 75 per cent of schools providing equal access to football for girls in PE lessons and 90 per cent of schools offering regular extracurricular football by 2024.
The Let Girls Play campaign was launched in October 2021 to support the FA's strategic ambition to provide girls with equal access to football.
Find out more about the campaign and get involved or join the movement via social media, follow Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #LetGirlsPlay.
(Source & Image: England Football)
More information: https://www.englandfootball.com/articles/2023/Mar/08/biggest-ever-football-session-let-girls-play-international-womens-day-20230803