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Research suggests a quarter of teenage girls will not return to team sport

Research suggests a quarter of teenage girls will not return to team sport
July 30, 2020

New research has revealed that the Coronavirus crisis has impacted teenage girls appetite for team sport with more than a quarter of young Australian females at risk of not returning to play team sport following time away during lockdown.

Released ahead of the relaunch of the Suncorp Super Netball Season this Saturday, the national survey of more than 1,000 Australian teenagers, conducted as part of the Suncorp Team Girls initiative, revealed one in four have simply lost interest, while more than half (60%) reported ‘nothing can be done’ to make them look forward to participating in team sports again.

The report also revealed team sports was primarily replaced with ‘screen time’ (for 91%) including 63% spending more time on social media during social restrictions, and two-thirds (67%) of Australian girls admitted to being less active during lockdown, compared to the same time last year.

More encouraging the research found that more than eight in 10 (86%) of respondents recognise the numerous benefits of team sports participation, with almost half (47%) reporting it increases their confidence, and more than six in 10 (64%) feeling happier when they play.

Of those that have missed playing team sports (85%), ‘playing with friends and team-mates’ is what they miss the most, followed by almost two-thirds (63%) missing the physical activity.

Noting that sport has the incredible ability to bring people and communities together, and during uncertain times these connections are more important than ever, Lisa Harrison, Chief Executive of Suncorp’s Insurance Product and Portfolio, stated “we know the last few months have been tough for our local sporting groups, and these latest findings reinforce the importance of spotlighting the power of community sport and the role it plays in building confidence and local connections.”

Suncorp Team Girls ambassador and Australian Diamonds netball player Gretel Bueta said the findings highlight the vital importance of encouraging the nation’s young women to stay in the game.

Bueta noted “what is so interesting about Suncorp’s latest research is that despite young women being at risk of leaving their chosen team sport, they clearly recognise the positive impact it can have on their lives.

“We, as role models, family members and friends, have the chance to remind these same girls why getting back into the game can help nurture skills such as perseverance, resilience and confidence. I encourage Australia to come together at this essential moment to ensure we don’t lose young women from team sport.”

The benefits of sports are widely recognised to have lifetime impacts, as sport is felt to build fundamental life skills like team building, leadership and resilience. Today’s findings follow on from Suncorp’s ‘2019 Youth Confidence Report’, which found a direct link for girls of all ages between being confident and achieving success in a range of life dimensions, including their work and social lives.

Key research findings:

• For the 40% who can be enticed back to team sports, having their friends also participating (27%) is most likely to make them look forward to returning, as well as if sports clubs/federations ran a fitness clinic to help them get back into training (7%).

• Those living in Victoria (62%) are more likely than those living in NSW (53%) and Queensland (45%) to strongly agree that they have missed playing team sports since the COVID-19 restrictions.

• Those living in the five major capital cities are more likely than those living in regional areas to say they miss the physical activity (65% compared to 56%) and the positive benefits of playing a team sport (55% compared to 41%).

• Further benefits cited as a result of playing team sport include sleeping better (38%) and feeling more relaxed (34%), while one in four (23%) find it easier to concentrate when they are doing their schoolwork.

• Not only are those living in Western Australia more likely than those living in NSW and Queensland to have participated in team sport over the past 12 months but they are also more likely to feel that they get benefits from playing team sports (Western Australia 93% compared to NSW 86%, Queensland 80% and South Australia 83%).

• Australian girls aged 11-17 years living in Western Australia are more likely than those living in NSW and Queensland to have participated in a team sport over the past 12 months (Western Australia 84% compared to NSW 75% and QLD 68%).

• Those living in Western Australia (39%), Queensland (36%) and Victoria (37%) are more likely than those living in NSW (25%) to have participated in netball 

• Of those that have participated in a team sport over the past 12 months, the majority (90%) were participating at least once a week, with one in five (19%) participating four or more days per week.

This research study was conducted by YouGov Plc. with a sample of 1,007 Australian girls aged 11 to 17 years. Fieldwork was conducted online from the 6th to 13th July 2020. Figures were weighted by age and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.

Related Articles

17th July 2020 - Majority of Australians failed to meet suggested physical activity behaviour guidelines during Coronavirus lockdown

30th June 2020 - Sport Australia and Suncorp partner to expand Team Girls initiative

23rd June 2020 - ICC says T20 Women’s World Cup 2020 broke viewing records for female sport

31st May 2020 - Suncorp Super Netball announces details for 2020 season start

4th May 2020 - Australians’ physical activity declines during Coronavirus lockdown

15th March 2020 - GIO Stadium unveils new video screen and female-friendly changerooms

11th March 2020 - Female participation in football reaches record levels in Australia

7th February 2020 - Reports reveal Federal Government ‘quietly spent’ $150 million female sports program funds on aquatic centre projects in marginal seats

30th January 2020 - Surfing Australia set to launch new female participation program

21st November 2019 - Two female directors join Football Federation Australia board

17th November 2019 - ACT on target for 40% female representation on sporting boards

6th August 2019 - Moreland Council increases female sports participation

30th July 2019 - Women’s group launches campaign to defend female sport

24th June 2019 - Lack of female football facilities threatens development of future Matildas in Victoria

15th April 2019 - Sport Facility funding focuses on female-appropriate change rooms

1st December 2018 - Four-year strategy announced to drive powerful change for women and girls in sport

18th October 2018 - Women Sport Australia announce ‘world beating’ sportswomen 

8th December 2016 - Landmark study finds sport struggling to keep youth engaged


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