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 5’s to the over 75’s.
“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 50’s, 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.”
The national position is echoed in the ACT, where football maintains its position as the leading organised sport, by far, for adults and children, with some 58,600 participants recorded in the survey.
Capital Football Chief Executive Phil Brown said that footballs growth shows no sign of slowing.
“The demand for our sport in Canberra and the surrounds is greater than ever, and our clubs have been inundated in the past year with new participants,” Mr. Brown said.
“We continue to record the highest percentage of females playing football in the country, and have one of the most successful and well-regarded Westfield W-League sides in Canberra United.
“With a brand new Home of Football to be built at Throsby in partnership with the ACT Government, the future for football in the capital is extremely bright.”
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), captained by Canberra United’s Karly Roestbakken, 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) reached the knock-out stages of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019TM.
The Young Socceroos (U-19 Men) are in Chinese Taipei for 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 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 travel to Amman this week to face Jordan in their fourth Round Two match of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM Qualification.
Meanwhile, the Westfield W-League 2019/20 season was officially launched this morning, with Canberra United set to kick-off their campaign at home against Perth Glory on Sunday 17 November.
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.