England’s Lionesses sign Rishi Sunak’s shirt as PM kickstarts drive to get all girls playing football at school

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosts current and former members of England women's football team during a football coaching event at Downing Street in London. Picture date: Wednesday March 8, 2023. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Richard Pohle/The Times/PA Wire

ENGLAND’S Lionesses kicked off Rishi Sunak’s drive to more girls playing footie today – with a training session in Downing Street.

The whistle-wielding PM observed the knockabout before getting his Three Lions shirt signed by Euro 22 champion Jill Scott.

Schoolgirls enjoyed drills outside No10 to mark the launch of a new sporting initiative

Rishi Sunak gets his England shirt signed by Three Lions champion Jill Scott

Schoolgirls enjoyed drills outside No10 to mark the launch of a new sporting initiative to breed the next generation of women stars.

New government standards will tell teachers to offer female pupils the same sports as boys.

A curriculum shake-up will also encourage schools to increase PE lessons to a minimum two hours each week.

The Saints-supporting PM said: “Last year the Lionesses’ victory changed the game.

“Young girls know when they take to the pitch that football is for them and, thanks to the Lionesses, they too could be a part of the next generation to bring it home for their country.”

England women’s captain Leah Williamson added: “The success of the summer has inspired so many young girls to pursue their passion for football.

“We see it as our responsibility to open the doors for them to do so and this announcement makes that possible. This is the legacy that we want to live much longer than us as a team.”

It follows the Let Girls Play joint campaign by the Lionesses and the FA following their Euros 22 triumph.

Schools will be told that where it is wanted they must offer girls the same activities as boys – also including rugby and cricket – in lessons and after-school clubs.

Ministers also want teachers to ring fence at least two hours a week for sports, although they cannot dictate how much of the curriculum it takes up.

But Education Secretary Gillian Keegan insists it would be “great for both physical and mental health” as well as teamwork.

A £600million pot of previously announced money will be used to help heads lay on sports over the next two years.

A further £57million funding will be used for schools to keep their pitches open after lessons for pupils to use

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak blows a whistle as he hosts current and former members of England women’s football team