A 16-year-old girl has launched a petition calling on the government to make equal sporting opportunities in schools a legal requirement.

Katie Allen, who attends Sherfield School in Basingstoke, is a keen football player who trains several times a week with Oxford United talent ID centre and AFC Aldermaston.

She also spends her weekends refereeing for both men’s and women’s leagues, including the Thames Valley men’s league.

However, she believes that others are being put off pursuing similar hobbies as a result of old-fashioned physical education in UK schools - and has decided to do something about it.

Katie told the Gazette: “The reason I started the petition is I feel very frustrated. I play football with girls all over the country and we all have the same problem, that schools are not offering football - or all sports - to both boys and girls.

“When it’s netball season and the boys are playing football, I feel very awkward in my own skin. My preferred sport is football and more physical sports, and the boys are then not very nice to me, because they haven’t been well educated that sport is for everyone.”

After doing a lot of research, Katie found that this was a widespread issue - and one that she believes should be urgently addressed.

“It is a national issue. My petition is at 10,000 signatures and I know for a fact, from my research, that it is not just one school,” she said.

“I would like [the government] to create a law in their national curriculum, that all schools have to offer all sports to all children. So they can’t discriminate. In this day in age, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be that way.

“In the national curriculum it says ‘pupils’, not he, she or whatever. So it’s the schools choosing to make it gendered. But I think the government needs to take it a step further and make it a legal requirement.”

Katie says it’s not necessarily about pupils of different genders always playing in the same teams, but that if a sport is made available to one, it should be available to all.

She explained: “It’s not that I want genders to play together, because we’re teenagers and yes boys are usually stronger than girls. But I want the same sports to be on offer for all.

“I am in Year 11 now. I’m not doing this for my own good, I’m doing it because I feel so passionately about it and want change for future generations.

“My friends have been very supportive. I have one friend who is a very good tennis player, and another a very good hockey player. They are both right behind it. But we need more attention. We need a way to get the word out.”

The petition, which Katie set up in September on the parliament petitions website, has already exceeded the 10,000 signatures needed for it to be responded to by the government, but will run until March of next year with the aim of attracting 100,000 people.

Reacting to its initial success, Katie said: “I’m not shocked at the reaction because I have been posting it everywhere, literally every day, and so I see it clock up with my hard work. What keeps me going is all the positive comments I get every single day.”

However, she said what had surprised her was the number of people older than herself who had assumed that sports equality in schools was already in place.

“People leave school and leave it behind and I’ve seen lots of comments from people shocked because they didn’t realise it was still like that,” she said.

Summing up why this is a cause in need of everyone’s attention, Katie said: “I think all sports should be for all, it’s as simple as that. We have national sports teams that we need to fill, and if people aren’t being given opportunities to try different sports and nurture talent, we won’t have that.

“From day one, children are told football is a boys’ sport. Schools should educate them for life, and tell them that anything is possible.

“It seems like schools are still in the Victorian times, when they did different subjects, according to their gender. In the 21st century, you wouldn’t think it would be like that any more.”