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Football welcomes recognition as Australia’s top participation sport

Football welcomes recognition as Australia’s top participation sport
December 9, 2016

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has welcomed the release of independent Australian Sports Commission (ASC) figures that show football is Australia’s largest club-based participation sport.

Independent data released in the ASC’s Ausplay survey (LINK) reveals that more than a million men, women, boys and girls are playing football, significantly more than any other club-based sport.

Commenting on the findings, FFA Chief Executive David Gallop stated “football is Australia’s most popular club-based participation sport for adults and children because it is the most inclusive and accessible.

“Everyone is welcome in football regardless of gender, age, ability or background.

“Football is also the biggest global sport with the world’s highest profile players and competitions and the planet’s biggest event, the FIFA World Cup.

“The combination of local accessibility and global interest is attracting more and more Australians.”

Gallop said the growth of the Hyundai A-League and the Westfield W-League was providing pathways for more Australian juniors to pursue a professional career while giving Australian and New Zealand fans a high quality league of their own.

“There has been a lot said recently about the emergence of opportunities for women in sport and we applaud these developments.”

Released yesterday, the AusPlay survey shows 1,086,986 Australians participating in football.

The AusPlay figures, produced following interviews with over 20,000 adults, including more than 3,800 parents/guardians of children aged up to 14 years, show marked differences from figures claimed by sports including cricket.

In August, Cricket Australia claimed it was the nation’s most popular sport, with 1,311,184 people playing it last year.

At the time, Cricket Australia Chief Exectuive James Sutherland crowed that “cricket is clearly the sport of choice for many Australians.”

However, AusPlay figures show the sport has 562,000 people, which suggests that only half of Cricket Australia’s claimed participants go to the trouble of signing up with a club

Similarly, at the beginning of the year, the AFL has released figures that showed more than 3.2 million Australians participated in Aussie rules football in 2015.

By contrast, the AusPlay figures show AFL had 635,627 participants.

Gallop said the Ausplay survey was an important initiative by the Australian Sports Commission, concluding “ultimately sport is about fun, fitness and friendships.

“It helps shape us as individuals and as a society. This work by the Sports Commission provides evidence and insights that will tell us what we need to do to keep the next generation healthy and active.” 

More information on AusPlay can be found at www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/research/smi/ausplay/results

Images: Youth football action from the Play Station 4 NPL NSW Men's competition in 2016 (top) and David Gallop (below)

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