More girls playing football at school in the Midlands after euros
When the Lionesses won the Euros last summer, they were seen by millions, they were also determined to be heard.
Today, one of their main demands was answered. The government is to make access to football in schools equal for girls and boys in school.
In the shadow of Villa Park and right across the country, girls celebrated the news with over 200,000 today taking part in a football tournament.
They were joined by former England stars who could only dream of the access they will now get.
Former Lioness Laura Bassett said: “I’ve got a four year old daughter and she starts her school journey in September. So I hope that her and her friends experiences in school are very different to mine.
"You know, I think a lot of people used to say to me, How did you start? You know, and it was my older brother and boys, but hopefully equal access in schools and the government providing funding, you know, my daughter will have a very different experience in school, which is so important.”
But for Gemma Spiers, who has worked in schools football around Birmingham for over a decade, this will be not overnight fix.
She said: “The biggest issue at the moment is that transition from my perspective in my area is from primary to secondary school, where the girls are given a numerous amount of opportunities within our set in within our area.
"But then as they transition to secondary those opportunities become limited or because of their engagement, they suddenly find a different life. Society changes their needs, and, you know, the opportunities that they have, I feel, reduces somewhat.”
Currently, 67% of all schools offer equal access to girls but that drops to 40% of secondary schools.
In our own research we reached out to 300 secondary schools across the Midlands. 136 responded to say they offer girls access to football in PE. Of those, 105 said more are playing since the Euros win last summer. That’s over 75%.
We heard from schools who saw the confidence grow in their girls to try the sport and even staff to take lessons.
In playgrounds, it is now not uncommon to hear skills compared to Lionesses such as “that nutmeg was like Russo.”
One school now even has more girls playing than boys.
But clearly a sizeable number did not respond to our survey and I suspect they include the majority of schools who do not offer the sport. It is now up to them to take the momentum to the next level.