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England’s run to the final has inspired a nation, so let’s get even more girls playing


The Lionesses are attracting millions of new fans to the game – but to keep them, girls need to be able to continue football through secondary school

July 27, 2022 8:01 pm(Updated 8:02 pm)

Be inspired? My six-year-old daughter is stoked. An Arsenal fan, she went to her first Women’s Super League game last year. We saw super Beth Mead vanquish Chelsea. Now Mead has fired England into this Sunday’s European Championship final. If they lift the cup, it will be the country’s first major football trophy since 1966.

The football is thrilling, the team are down to earth – and they are attracting millions of new fans to the game. More than nine million people watched England thrash Sweden on Tuesday night, making it one of the most-watched television shows this year. My dad messages me his running commentary during matches. Millions more will have followed online streams.

A record TV audience for women’s football will watch the final on Sunday (coverage starts at 4pm on BBC1, kick-off 5pm). International women’s football is a ratings winner, leaving some other sports envious. The broadcasters’ challenge after this tournament will be to replicate that success in the domestic game.

There will be no crowd trouble, cocaine rampages, drunken fighting or scuffles with stewards. No fireworks will be launched from buttocks. Families will enjoy themselves. Young children will dance in the stands.

Bravo Ian Wright, a longtime champion of the women’s game, for his speech on this tournament’s legacy. “If girls aren’t allowed to play football, just like the boys in PE after this, what are we doing?” he asked. “We’ve got to make sure that they are able to play. If there’s no legacy after this, what are we doing?” Bang on.

As i reveals, just 44 per cent of secondary schools offer girls the same football lessons as boys. The picture at primary schools is better: 75 per cent of them have equal football in PE lessons for boys and girls. But if girls can’t continue football through secondary school then millions are needlessly walking away from the game.

Come on England! #Letgirlsplay

@olyduff



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