Arsenal & Lioness Wubben-Moy and FA Director of Women’s football need more from Government By Michelle
Arsenal and England centre-back Wubben-Moy said, after the Lionesses Euro win, that the ‘inequality’ of access that affects girls in school should be ‘illegal’.
After the success of the Lionesses Euros campaign, Lotte approached England Captain and fellow Arsenal teammate Leah Williamson and Sue Campbell, the director of women’s football at the Football Association, and told them of her plan: to make football available to girls in school PE. European Championship triumph, the team would warn, must be only the beginning of inspiring the next generation.
England’s historic European Championship success this summer turbo charged the Football Association’s ambitions for the women’s and girl’s game, but Baroness Sue Campbell insists there is plenty still to do to achieve its aims.
The Football Association (Inspiring Positive Change campaign) has published new statistics two years on from the launch of its ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ strategy, noting some good progress since the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 final victory over Germany in July.
Since then, interest in women’s football is up 12% amongst girls aged 5-16 in England, compared to before the tournament, and figures show a 17 per cent rise in female affiliated players across all levels of the game in the past 12 months, alongside a 30 per cent increase in registered female teams and a 15 per cent lift in youth sides comprising five to 18-year-olds. There is also a marked upward trend in attendance at Women’s Super League matches. Arsenal recently recorded a new record for attendance at a WSL match in their North London Derby against Tottenham. We also reported yesterday that over 30,000 tickets have been sold already for Arsenal’s clash with Manchester United at Emirates Stadium.
Baroness Campbell, director of women’s football at the FA, said: The power of women’s football was evident on 31 July 2022, a day that will live long in the memory for us all.
One goal in the strategy was to ‘win a major tournament’ but none of us could have imagined the impact of victory in a home tournament. When the Lionesses lifted the UEFA Women’s EURO trophy at Wembley Stadium in front of 87,000 fans, it was a moment of great joy, but it was also a moment of great opportunity. The reaction to the success and the way it transcended society has given us an unprecedented chance to change the future of the women’s game forever. It has turbo charged our strategy with demand growing right across the game.
Another big goal was our pledge to transform the game at the grassroots level by ensuring that girls have equal access to football in schools and clubs. It’s a passion shared by our special group of England players, who are doing everything in their power to make change in this area. Our strategy sought to achieve this goal by 2024 but we know that we must capitalise on the Euros and work in partnership with government and other key stakeholders to drive this ambition as quickly as possible. The reality is we haven’t got strong PE in schools policy from the government, she stressed.
It sits at the heart of pretty much everything else we’re talking about, if you don’t get girls the experience of playing the game. There’s money in the system, but not the policy that says this matters.
PE and school sport isn’t ‘nice to do’, it’s ‘need to do’. This isn’t something that on a rainy day you can abandon and do a little bit more reading. It’s about the people standing on platforms and saying this matters. And yes, we’d like a piece of that for football please.
(Arsenal`s) Leah (Williamson) and Lotte (Wubben-Moy’s)’s letter, which was sent to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss said we don’t want the legacy to just be our win at Wembley, we want our legacy to be that we’re giving young girls the opportunity to play our game. They also want to make sure that young girls are healthy, well and happy. So it’s the biggest issue we’ve got. It’s the biggest issue for every sport, not just the biggest issue for football.
So, we are a few months on from the Lionesses’ Euro triumph and I think we can all feel the uplift in interest in women’s football on a number of levels, not least of all with more and more women’s games being played at major stadiums, being televised, and record attendance levels but the key question here is:
What is the government actually doing about it? To be fair, UK Prime Ministers seem to have been going through a bit of a revolving door with 6 in the top job over the last 5 years. What are the chances really of getting policies to stick amidst that turmoil at the top?
We think Sue Campbell and Arsenal’s Lotte Wubben-Moy (the originator of this issue) have an upward battle on their hands. The momentum and the drive for change are there within society and within the game at all levels so what will it take to get the government on board? We appreciate the current incumbent in the top job may have one or two other pressing issues but all we need is a Policy that says this matters..
Your thoughts appreciated..
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