England’s hockey players urge the government to back team sports in schools after the Commonwealth’s success

England’s women beat Australia 2-1 to win gold at the Commonwealth Games for the first time

England’s medal-winning hockey teams have urged the Conservative party leadership candidates to prioritize team sports in schools and guarantee two hours of physical education a week.

“We’re now looking to the future,” they said in an open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

“We want to inspire the next generation and make real change in this country.”

The winner of the Conservative leadership contest – to be decided in a run-off vote among the party’s members – will be named in September, and will become the UK prime minister.

In their letter to the candidates, England’s hockey teams added: “We want to create more opportunities for children and young people of all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy sport and physical activity.

“To achieve this, we believe the government should prioritize and promote the importance of team sport.

“We are committed to a more equal, diverse and inclusive sport, but we cannot achieve this on our own.”

Last week, England’s European football champions late an open letter to the candidates, urging them to ensure “every young girl” can play football at school.

The Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 at Wembley on 31 July to win Euro 2022 – securing their first major trophy.

Among the measures requested in the hockey teams’ letter are that:

  • Children take part in a minimum of two hours of physical education (PE) per week
  • PE becomes a compulsory national curriculum subject with team sports – including hockey – at the core
  • Substantial, targeted investment is made in PE and school sport to improve facilities and raise the number of PE teachers in primary and secondary schools.

They quote new researchexternal-link which says children’s mental and physical well-being is significantly enhanced by playing team sport.

And they pointed to a Sport England survey which revealed four million children aged between five and 16 failed to meet minimum recommended activity levels during the past year.

The Department for Education (DfE) has previously said it is up to schools to decide which sports to offer pupils, but they should offer “comparable activities” to girls and boys.

The letter to the leadership contenders continued: “We want to inspire a lifelong participation in sport and physical activity and so we ask you as our future leader to invest in what we believe is a fundamental right for every child in this country.”

“We all need to play our part and we urge you as our future prime minister to take the lead and invest in our collective futures.”

Following the Lionesses’ triumph at Euro 2022, a spokesperson for Truss said England’s Euros success would have a lasting impact on women’s football and she would investigate “what prevents schools from delivering the recommended minimum of two hours PE per week”.

A campaign spokesperson for Sunak said he had been inspired by the team and had already said he would launch a review “to make sure that all women and girls have the opportunity to take part in the beautiful game [football]”.

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