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JULIE ELLIOTT: Supporting the goal that would allow girls to have equal access to football

As we approach the Play Off Final on Saturday, we will see thousands head down to Wembley from Sunderland in search of promotion – I can’t wait to watch, and I hope everyone has a safe, enjoyable, and successful day out.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 12:00 am

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Only 63% of girls have equal access to play football in schools across the country.
Only 63% of girls have equal access to play football in schools across the country.

Sunderland has produced many sporting stars over the years, Jordan Henderson, Jill Scott, Josh Kelly – so many big names, achieving great things.

They do not get to that level though without the hard work and dedication of so many volunteers, coaches and teachers.

You do not have to be at the top level of the sport to feel its benefit.

We know that sport and exercise is important for health, and can reduce the risk of serious illness and serious diseases. It is also a good way of keeping fit and improving your general health.

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I was therefore disappointed to hear the Government recent U-turn on parts of its National Obesity Strategy, which would have helped adults and children to live healthier lives.

It really is vital that people are given the resources, and access to facilities, to get involved however they want to.

Access and opportunity needs infrastructure – and this is yet another area where the cost-of-living crisis is having an effect.

Recent increases in energy costs combined with fewer people using facilities since the pandemic has meant that organisations have struggled with increased cost and lower incomes.

The government simply must do more to provide support to this industry, to ensure that access to leisure and sporting facilities is not just protected, but expanded – for healthy living, but also for finding our athletes of the future.

This is also why I am supporting the FA’s #LetGirlsPlay initiative, and I am proud of the FA and the Football Foundation’s investment in facilities in Sunderland.

Only 63% of girls have equal access to play football in schools across the country.

The FA’s #LetGirlsPlay campaign is working to change this, and their ambition is that by 2024, 75% of schools provide equal access to football for girls in schools.

Sunderland has produced some of the finest women athletes, and we want to make sure that we keep doing so, giving more young girls access to the sports they want to play – and our schools are already doing an excellent job.

As we are now less than 50 days away from the first ball being kicked in the Women’s Euros 2022, there is no better time to encourage more girls to get involved.