Liz Truss signalled confusion to Euro 2022-winning players about the lack of PE for girls as she vowed to review a key demand to boost girls’ football, a sporting chief has said.
Ms Truss gave the women’s team their first prime ministerial visit since they became the first England football team to win a title for 56 years two months ago.
She watched them train before meeting two key players and senior Football Association (FA) figures as they prepare to use a match to highlight their “Let girls play” campaign for equal access.
Boris Johnson, remaining as caretaker in No 10 at the time of July’s victory, did not meet the squad afterwards or host them in Downing Street.
While she was foreign secretary and campaigning to be the next Tory leader – and therefore Prime Minister – Ms Truss was cheering England on at Wembley.
The team wrote to her, demanding that all schoolgirls have access to a minimum of two hours a week of sport classes as they seek to use their victory to improve society.
On Monday, Ms Truss met captain Leah Williamson and defender Lotte Wubben-Moy, who was the driving force behind the letter demanding action.
The FA’s director of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell, chief executive Mark Bullingham and Sports Secretary Michelle Donelan joined them.
The crossbench peer said the meeting was “very positive” as the players expressed their struggles to become footballing stars.
Asked if Ms Truss backs their key PE demand, Baroness Campbell told the PA news agency: “She certainly backs equal opportunity, no question about that.
“I think she really understands it. She’s very sympathetic with that need to give people equal opportunity.
“I think she’s confused as to why we’re not doing two hours in our curriculum and wants to have a look at that and review that, why isn’t that happening and I think that’s all very positive.”
Baroness Campbell said there is a belief the PM is listening to the calls, and said Ms Donelan was “very clear that she’s going to pick this up and take this forward very strongly”.
She said Williamson and Wubben-Moy will meet with Education Secretary Kit Malthouse early next month.
“I hope that we see some progress before that meeting,” the peer added.
The meeting came after Ms Truss caught a glimpse of a training session at the Lensbury Resort in south-west London following the team’s victory over the USA and ahead of another friendly against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
She spoke to manager Sarina Wiegman before holding up the European trophy after a team photograph with stars including Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Fran Kirby.
Mr Johnson chose not to watch the Lionesses’ 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley Stadium despite German Chancellor Olaf Scholz travelling to London to support his team.
The then-PM’s spokesman was forced to deny a snub, with Mr Johnson present for the men’s loss to Italy in the Euros final a year earlier.
In the wake of their victory, all 23 members of the winning squad wrote to Ms Truss and her then-leadership rival Rishi Sunak demanding “real change” for women’s football.
The team said they see their victory as “only the beginning” and demanded that all schoolgirls have access to a minimum of two hours’ sports classes every week.
Only a third of girls aged five to 18 play football each week despite it being England’s most popular team sport, according to FA research.
Only 63% of schools in England offer equal football coaching to boys and girls, the FA found.
Asked if the team will ever quit in their fight for equality, Baroness Campbell said: “No, no, no, no, you’ve seen them on the pitch. They don’t give up.
“This is a very determined group of women, a very special group of women, and they’ll keep going ’til they get the result they’re after.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub Source : Radio News Hub