On 9 November, Munira led a debate in Westminster Hall to celebrate the England women’s football team, the Lionesses’ triumph at the UEFA European Women’s Championships during the summer.
Opening the debate, Munira put on record her congratulations to the England squad, and that of the whole of the House of Commons, on their historic victory. “The legacy of their stunning win is there to be shaped,” Munira told MPs, as she called on the Government to ensure that support is put in place for the next generation of young women and girls now inspired to get out on the pitch.
Munira went on to highlight the calls of the Lionesses and the FA for all girls to have access to football on the curriculum and for every child to enjoy two hours of PE lessons a week at school.
Currently, only 63% of schools in England offer equal access to football for girls and boys. At secondary schools, the numbers fall even further, with over half of girls being excluded from the beautiful game. With such a patchy offering of football in PE lessons, Munira paid tribute to the many national and local organisations working to help level the playing field through extracurricular clubs.
She highlighted a number of fantastic local sports teams and clubs, including Hampton Rangers FC, Hampton and Richmond FC, the Whitton Wanderers, Hearts of Teddlothian and Twickenham Cygnets and Twickenham Parakeets teams for girls.
After meeting with Natalie Raja, the founder of Bushy Park Girls Cricket Club, earlier in the week, Munira also touched on the inspirational story behind the club and the challenges that they continue to face in negotiating equal access to facilities as boys’ teams.
Another issue facing sports clubs across Richmond borough is the lack of playing fields space for training and fixtures. Munira highlighted the local campaign to retain Udney Park playing fields for community use.
One of the many sports groups that makes use of Udney Park are Thamesians RFC, who also have a thriving women’s team. Munira finished her speech by reading the testimony of one Thamesians player about how playing women’s sport had changed her life.
The debate ended on a successful note, with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Stuart Andrew MP, telling Munira that he “will absolutely commit” to make women and girls’ support a priority.
Afterwards, Munira said: “As MP for Twickenham, I am so proud of our strong sporting heritage and thriving network of grassroots sports clubs, run almost exclusively by dedicated volunteers.
“At the elite level, Twickenham is of course not only home to English rugby, but also the mighty Harlequins, the very first ParkRun in Bushy Park and the oldest hockey club in the world in Teddington.
“Playing sport has the ability to change people’s lives, build their confidence and bring communities together, as we know better than most in Twickenham. It is crucial that girls and young women have access to sport in school and in the community, with all of its many benefits.”