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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
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Contents >> Culture and recreation >> Children's participation in organised sport

A survey of children's activities in the 12 months to April 2003 found 1.6 million children aged 5-14 years (62%) participated outside of school hours in sport that had been organised by a school, club or association.

Participation in organised sport peaked at the age of 10 years for boys and 11 years for girls. However, across all ages boys were more likely to participate than girls - the total participation rate was 69% for boys and 54% for girls (table 12.32). There was also a higher percentage of boys participating in more than one sport (35% of boys compared with 23% of girls).


12.32 CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN ORGANISED SPORT(a) - 2003

Number
Participation rate


Males
Females
Persons
Males
Females
Persons
Age (years)
'000
'000
'000
%
%
%

5
67.1
45.4
112.5
51.5
36.7
44.3
6
80.4
52.9
133.3
60.5
42.1
51.5
7
91.0
66.1
157.1
67.4
51.4
59.6
8
101.1
73.6
174.7
73.8
56.9
65.6
9
98.9
74.1
173.0
72.0
56.7
64.6
10
104.2
81.6
185.8
75.6
62.5
69.3
11
102.0
84.1
186.1
73.7
64.0
69.0
12
102.7
79.6
182.2
74.1
60.2
67.3
13
91.0
73.7
164.7
66.5
56.5
61.6
14
93.5
67.5
161.0
70.1
53.0
61.7
Total
931.9
698.5
1,630.4
68.6
54.2
61.6

(a) Outside of school hours during the 12 months prior to interview in April 2003.

Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2003 (4901.0).


Of children in all the states and territories, those in Western Australia had the highest participation rate (66%) in organised sport outside of school hours, while those in Queensland had the lowest participation rate (54%).

Children's sports with the most participants

The most popular organised sport for children was swimming with a participation rate of 17%, followed by outdoor soccer (13%). The organised sports that attracted most boys were outdoor soccer (with a participation rate for boys of 22%), swimming (16%), and Australian rules football (14%). For girls, the sports with the highest participation rates were netball (18%), swimming (17%), and tennis (8%) (table 12.33). Dancing was an organised cultural (and physical) activity with a higher participation rate for girls (24%) than any organised sport (table 12.22).


12.33 CHILDREN'S PARTICIPATION IN SELECTED ORGANISED SPORTS(a) - 2003

Number
Participation rate


Males
Females
Persons
Males
Females
Persons
'000
'000
'000
%
%
%

Swimming
213.6
225.5
439.1
15.7
17.5
16.6
Soccer (outdoor)
301.1
54.8
355.9
22.2
4.2
13.4
Netball
8.2
233.0
241.2
0.6
18.1
9.1
Tennis
128.3
100.1
228.5
9.5
7.8
8.6
Basketball
116.1
88.9
205.0
8.6
6.9
7.7
Australian Rules football
184.2
9.4
193.6
13.6
0.7
7.3
Cricket (outdoor)
124.2
9.5
133.6
9.1
0.7
5.0
Martial arts
83.9
45.8
129.7
6.2
3.6
4.9
Athletics and track and field
51.7
48.6
100.2
3.8
3.8
3.8
Gymnastics and trampolining
22.5
69.9
92.4
1.7
5.4
3.5
Rugby League
76.2
**0.9
77.1
5.6
**0.1
2.9
Hockey
33.3
33.0
66.3
2.5
2.6
2.5

(a) Outside of school hours during the 12 months prior to interview in April 2003.

Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2003 (4901.0).


About an equal percentage of girls and boys participated in athletics, hockey and swimming. However, there is a clear difference between the sexes in preference or opportunities for some sports. Most netball players and gymnasts were girls (97% and 76%), while boys made up 99% of rugby league players, 95% of Australian rules footballers, and 93% of outdoor cricket players.

Changes in participation since 2000

The overall number of children involved in organised sport increased by more than 62,000 between 2000 and 2003, increasing the participation rate by two percentage points to 62%. This was mainly caused by an increased participation rate among boys (from 66% in 2000 to 69% in 2003).
The organised sport with the highest participation rate in both 2000 and 2003 was swimming, which attracted an additional 59,000 participants during this period. Of the 12 sports with the highest participation rates, the one showing the largest decrease in participation was rugby league, with 18,000 fewer children involved in 2003 than in 2000 (table 12.34).


12.34 CHILDREN INVOLVED IN ORGANISED SPORT(a)

2000
2003


Number
Participation rate
Number
Participation rate
'000
%
'000
%

Swimming
380.1
14.4
439.1
16.6
Soccer (outdoor)
302.3
11.4
355.9
13.4
Netball
241.4
9.1
241.2
9.1
Tennis
223.8
8.5
228.5
8.6
Basketball
200.3
7.6
205.0
7.7
Australian Rules football
174.4
6.6
193.6
7.3
Cricket (outdoor)
140.9
5.3
133.6
5.0
Martial arts
104.6
4.0
129.7
4.9
Athletics and track and field
104.1
3.9
100.2
3.8
Gymnastics and trampolining
67.7
2.6
92.4
3.5
Rugby League
95.1
3.6
77.1
2.9
Hockey
64.2
2.4
66.3
2.5
Other organised sports
371.7
14.1
396.6
15.0
Total(c)
1,568.2
59.4
1,630.4
61.6

(a) Outside of school hours during the 12 months prior to interview in April.
(b) Care should be taken when interpreting the data in these columns as some of the changes between years are not statistically significant.
(c) The sum of activities do not add to the total because some children were involved in more than one activity.

Source: Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2003 (4901.0).


For information about children's involvement in cultural and leisure activities, see Children's participation in organised cultural activities and Children's participation in selected leisure activities.

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