Nearly 300,000 school girls took part in a football event on International Women’s Day hosted by the FA and Barclays as part of their campaign to provide equal access to football.
This year’s Biggest Ever Football Session earned a record 285,000 sign-ups from schools to organise football sessions for girls as part of the Let Girls Play vision.
Part of the reason cited for the massive jump in interest was put to the Euros triumph of the Lionesses last year, the country’s first major success in the women’s game.
Kelly Smith, former England international and Barclays Football Ambassador, said: “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.”
National team regulars Leah Williamson, the captain, and Lotte Wueben-Moy announced yesterday on the Lionesses’ official Twitter about the Government’s pledge to delivering equal access to sports for girls.
The Let Girls Play campaign was launched by the FA in October 2021 with an aim to reach their target by 2024.
The ambition is to have 75% of schools across England provide equal opportunities for football in P.E lessons, and 90% offering it as normal extracurricular activities.
The Biggest Ever Football Session aimed to have schools dedicate a day to let schoolgirls play the sport in organised sessions as much as they want.
The session took place all over England, from Northumberland and Cornwall to even in front of No 10 Downing Street in London.
Key figures in the operation were at various sessions, with Women’s England team manager Sarina Wiegman and the FA’s Director of Women’s Football, Baroness Sue Campbell, in London alongside of the national team players.
Campbell was very happy about the record turnout for the event, as well as about the government announcement, taking crucial steps in her vision for growing the women’s game to new levels.
She said: “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.”
This year’s total was more than triple the 90,000 girls who signed up for the inaugural event last year.
Featured Image credit: Luke Walker – The FA/The FA via Getty Images