Minister on the guarantee of women’s football: “Not everyone is a fan of this sport”
The sports minister appears to have ruled out calls from the Lionesses to ensure every schoolgirl has access to soccer lessons, noting that “not everyone” is a fan of the sport.
It comes after the England women’s team, fresh from their European Championship victory, urged contenders for the Tory leadership to ensure all girls have the chance to play football in PE.
However, the government is aiming for equal access to football in just 90% of English schools by 2024.
Interviewed on BBC Breakfast, Nigel Huddleston said: “We’re aiming to get over 90% because… football isn’t necessarily for everyone.
“We have to think about the diversity of the sport, but that’s an admirable goal – and what a golden opportunity too, because there’s so much interest in football.”
With no legal requirement for girls to take football lessons, only about six out of 10 girls are currently able to play the sport at school.
Department of Education guidelines say schools should offer ‘comparable sporting activities’ for boys and girls, which critics say limits access to particular sports.
In an open letter this month, the England team urged Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to change “the lives of millions of girls” by ensuring they can play football at school.
He continued: “We have made incredible progress in women’s football, but this generation of schoolgirls deserves more.
“They deserve to play football at lunchtime, they deserve to play football in PE class and they deserve to believe that they can one day play for England.”
Mr Huddleston was then asked in a Good Morning Britain interview whether the government should have done more to celebrate the Lionesses’ recent 2-1 victory over Germany in the Euro final at Wembley .
When pressed by host Richard Madeley to explain why the team had not been given an open bus motorcade or invited to Downing Street, he argued that ‘thousands’ had attended the party of Victory in Trafalgar Square.
The Mid Worcestershire MP continued: “Conversations are still ongoing about additional things that may happen.
“The Lionesses… are rightly lying on a beach somewhere or sitting around a swimming pool too, because many of them immediately went on vacation.
“We’ll see if we can do something else, maybe Downing Street, but…it could be under the new Prime Minister.”