A record number of primary and secondary schools came together to hold the largest football session ever to highlight the demand for girls’ football and the importance of the government’s announcement of new standards for equal access to the sport.

Sue Campbell, FA Director of Women’s Football, said: “The record number of girls who took part in our ‘Let Girls Play Biggest Ever Football Session’ this year is simply remarkable. We tripled the number of girls participating compared to last year, which just goes to show the increased demand for girls to play football. Barclays’ investment in Girls’ Football School Partnerships has been an integral part of our drive to get more girls to play football.

“We welcome today’s government announcement that there will be equal access for girls to sport, including football, in schools. I am so incredibly proud of the England Senior Women team and their continued efforts and determination to advance equal access for girls and the next generation of Lionesses.”

Sasha Wiggins, Head of Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility at Barclays Group, said: “It was inspiring to see so many girls taking part in the biggest football session ever, especially today, on International Women’s Day and the day the Government has made a significant contribution to promoting equal access to sport in schools.

“We know that playing football promotes the physical and mental well-being of young people while teaching them valuable life skills. So we are delighted that today’s announcement directly supports the investment Barclays has made to ensure the infrastructure and long-term sustainability of girls’ football.”

Ian Wright, a former player and Barclays Football Ambassador, added: “That’s the legacy we talked about during the EURO. And this latest push is another step towards letting girls play football if they want to.

“Our national game is for everyone and 285,000 girls wanted to play today – I was proud to be a part of it! There is still work to be done, but this is a huge positive step forward.”

Kelly Smith, former player and Barclays Football Ambassador, added: “I dreamed of being a footballer from a young age and it was so difficult to achieve at the time.

“Today’s great event shows how many girls want to play football and therefore how important it is to give them this opportunity. I’m so happy to be a part of anything that promotes equal access to this beautiful football and I’m so proud to be a former lioness, even more so given the team’s recent achievements in promoting girls’ football in schools.”

Currently, only 67 percent of all schools and 41 percent of secondary schools offer football for girls equally in physical education classes and only 46 percent of schools offer the same extracurricular activities as boys.

As reflected in the Inspiring Positive Change strategy, our goal is for 75 percent of schools to have equal access to football for girls in physical education classes by 2024 and 90 percent of schools to offer extracurricular football on a regular basis.

The Let Girls Play campaign was launched in October 2021 to support the FA’s strategic objective of giving girls equal access to football.

Find out more about the campaign and get involved or join the movement on social media, follow Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #LetGirlsPlay.

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