OFFERING more girls the chance to play football in PE at school can help build on the legacy started by England Women’s Euro 2022 triumph, according to Swindon Town Women’s director of football Tom Hartley.

Chloe Kelly and Ella Toone scored the vital goals as Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 in front of 87,192 at Wembley on Sunday – the highest crowd for either a men’s or women’s European Championship.

The success is the first major trophy for an England side since the men’s team won the 1966 World Cup.

But while the celebrations continue for the current women’s squad, conversations about how to build upon the Lionesses’ achievement have already begun.

Hartley believes it is vital for football bosses to think long-term about how the game can grow and plough as much money into grassroots football as possible.

He said: “It needs time, and it needs investment. Legacy being legacy, of course people are going to be so enthusiastic and engaged at the moment.

“But it’s about thinking long-term and about how do we put things in place so that any girl – regardless of her background – has the option to go and get the best possible training in the best possible environment so they can either play for as long as they want or move up and through a pathway into senior football?”

READ: Find a local women's or girl's football team in Swindon and Wiltshire.

Town Women’s director of football says expanding the number and quality of coaches throughout the game would help develop the game for women, as would the frequency and standard of available pitches.

But the bottom line for Hartley is making sure that girls are able to play football in a safe environment and removing the misconception that football at school is a lesson just for boys.

He said: “It goes back to: “how do we get more girl’s football in primary schools?” Because that’s like the safe place for girls to play.

“They know that environment, so if a teacher is doing football in PE, then they will be able to build their confidence in that safety. And then when they’re confident, they might feel like they’re able to take that step and go and play for a club.

“But there is a bit of a gap at the moment – girls who want to play but don’t feel confident enough to go and play for a club because it’s too much of a leap. That’s something you don’t necessarily see in boys’ football.

“I saw a stat recently where only 44 per cent of girls have the opportunity to play football in secondary school. When you put it like that, it sounds ludicrous.

“That has to improve, that has to go up. We need schools to think about making football a sport that boys and girls play, rather than just a traditional case of boys play these sports and girls play these sports.”