Football confirmed as the largest club-based participation sport in Australia

November 7th, 2019

Football’s place as the number one club-based participation sport in Australia has been confirmed, with the release of the latest AusPlay survey by Sport Australia.

In the year to June 2019, 1,853,600 people played football in Australia comprising 1,084,200 adults and 769,400 children. There was an impressive 18.2% growth in the number of children aged 14 years or under playing the game and Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive David Gallop AM said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the survey.

“The data from Sport Australia backs up the findings from our own National Participation Report and demonstrates the popularity of our sport for people of all ages from the under 5s to the over 75s.

“Football is a game for everyone, no matter what your background or ability. FFA and the State and Territory Member Federations have worked extremely hard to drive participation growth by broadening the football offering way beyond the traditional outdoor 11-a-side winter season.

“Across the country, there are now programs of Walking Football for the over 50s, Multicultural programs for new arrivals and CALD communities, female-only programs including Soccer Mums and the increasingly popular small-sided summer football.”

Gallop added “These impressive participation numbers are being complemented by a clear career pathway for boys and girls at youth level, through to the senior national teams. This is backed up by the landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement announced yesterday, that closes the gender pay gap between the Caltex Socceroos and the Westfield Matildas, providing further inspiration to those looking to play football and emulate their heroes – as the numbers show, there has never been a better time to play football.”

Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) CEO David Eland congratulated the thousands of volunteers at the grassroots throughout Northern NSW for providing opportunities for people of all ages in their respective communities to enjoy football. 

“More people played football in 2019 in Northern NSW than in any other season. The number of players participating in traditional club-based competitions has increased by 14% since 2015 and the number of registered female players has soared by a staggering 23% during the same period.”

Eland added, “NNSWF’s new strategic plan identifies Inclusion and Diversity and Women and Girls as priorities. It’s therefore vital that all levels of government support our efforts to increase the number of people pursuing healthy and active lifestyles by investing more in football facilities which are safe, welcoming and fit for purpose.”     

Football Far North Coast General Manager Steve Mackney said, “the Far North Coast Region again surpassed the significant milestone of 7000 player registrations, with season 2019 confirming that football continues to be the sport of choice in this region.”

“Female participation represents 27% of total player numbers which is above the national average and provides an ongoing impetus to progress opportunities for more girls and women to participate.

“Football Far North Coast looks forward to another bumper season in 2020 with registrations to open on 1st February,” Mackney concluded.

The participation growth comes as football enjoys an exciting month ahead with national teams of all ages and both genders in action at home and abroad.

This week, the Westfield Young Matildas (U-19 Women) reached the semi-finals of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Thailand and are one win away from the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2020TM.

The Joeys (U-17 Men) qualified for the knock-out stages of FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019TM.

The Young Socceroos (U-19 Men) have travelled to Chinese Taipei ahead of their three Group H qualification matches for the 2020 AFC U-19 Championship.

A record crowd is anticipated this Saturday (9th) when the Westfield Matildas (Senior Women) play their first game since the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019TM against Chile at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta. They then travel to Adelaide for a second fixture against the South American nation on Tuesday (12th) at Coopers Stadium.

The Caltex Socceroos (Senior Men) travel to Amman this week to face Jordan in their fourth Round Two match of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM Qualification.

A fantastic month of football is finished off in style as the Pararoos (senior men’s team for athletes with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury or symptoms resulting from a stroke) play their first international on home soil since the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. Canada are the opponents at Cromer Park in Sydney on Saturday 30 November.

The Sport Australia AusPlay survey can be found here

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