More girls now playing soccer than netball says sport survey.
Over the last 12 months, soccer has overtaken swimming as the most popular sporting activity among Australian kids, with one in two children aged 6–13 now playing the Beautiful Game.
Furthermore, the latest findings from the Roy Morgan Research Young Australians Survey reveal that, for the first time, more girls are now playing soccer than netball.
Back in June 2014, 50 per cent of Aussie kids (or 1,213,000 children) reported going swimming, ahead of 47 per cent (1,136,000) who said they played soccer.
Since then, soccer has gained an extra 108,000 young players, to hit a 50 per cent participation rate (1,244,000); while swimming participation has fallen by 32,000 kids and now sits at 48 per cent.
While more Aussie kids are also taking part in athletics, cricket, netball and Australian Rules football than they were 12 months ago, the increases for these sports are negligible when compared with the boom in soccer participation.
But soccer’s rise is not simply the result of more boys playing it: it is becoming increasingly popular with girls as well. So much so, in fact, that a higher proportion of Australian girls (39%) now play soccer than netball (37%), a sport traditionally associated with girls
Hugh Amoyal, deputy CEO of Roy Morgan Research, said that despite the fact that the average time spent by Australian children playing sport each week has declined as they spend more time on the internet, it is encouraging to see that soccer participation has increased so substantially year on year for boys and girls.
‘Roy Morgan Research data show that team sports have a positive effect on the mental health of adults who play them,’ says Mr Morgan, ‘so it makes sense that children would experience the same benefits. The social bonding that comes from being part of a team and the endorphin rush arising from such a physical sport are not limited to any particular age, after all.
‘The rise in participation among Australian girls is particularly interesting, with more girls now playing soccer than the traditionally female-oriented sport of netball. Whether this is because of the “Matildas effect”, changing physical education programs in Australian schools, or a mixture of both is yet to be determined, but it is a step towards a more gender-balanced approach to sport.
‘For sporting organisations and educators seeking further insights into the sporting habits of Aussie kids, the Young Australians Survey from Roy Morgan Research is an ideal starting point, containing comprehensive data on the leisure activities of children aged 6–13, and how they are evolving.’
n Graphs source: Roy Morgan Young Australians Survey, July 2014 – June 2015 (n=2,622). Base: Australian children aged 6– v13.