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Participation in sport and active recreation

Australian Athletics Championship assistants

Participation in sport and active recreation is a priority because it benefits the wellbeing and health of individuals, the social cohesion of communities as well as boosting productivity and the economy.

The stats

According to the AusPlay April 2017 State and Territory Results, 3,681,500 NSW adults participated in sport or physical activity at least three times/week in 2016. This was a participation rate of 59%, which is in line with the national rate of 60%.

Adult participation in sport or physical activity

Frequency

National

NSW

VIC

QLD

SA

WA

TAS

ACT

NT

2+ per week

71%

69%

71%

71%

72%

73%

70%

77%

60%

3+ per week

60%

59%

60%

60%

60%

63%

58%

67%

53%

4+ per week

48%

47%

47%

49%

47%

51%

*

*

*

 * Estimate has relative margin of error between 50% and 100%

Unlike adult data, the AusPlay survey measured children’s participation in organised sport or physical activity outside of school hours. It found that almost 292,000 or 21% of NSW children aged 0 – 14 years participated at least three times per week. This includes games, training and practice.

The national rate was 20% and all states were in line with this figure.

Children’s participation in organised sport or physical activity
outside school hours

Frequency

National

NSW

Vic

Qld

SA

WA

Tas

ACT

NT

1+ per week

56%

55%

58%

55%

52%

55%

54%

60%

55%

2+ per week

34%

34%

35%

34%

28%

33%

34%

36%

*

3+ per week

20%

21%

21%

19%

18%

18%

*

*

*

 * Estimate has relative margin of error between 50% and 100%

Top 10 activities

  Children
Organised sport and PA
  Adults
All sport and physical activities
1 Swimming 30%

 

Walking 43%
2 Football 22%

 

Fitness/Gym 33%
3 Dancing (recreational) 9%

 

Swimming 16%
4 Gymnastics 8%

 

Athletics, track and field* 16%
5 Cricket 6%

 

Cycling 10%
6 Netball 5%

 

Football/soccer 7%
7 Tennis 4%

 

Bush walking 7%
8 Athletics, track and field* 4%

 

Golf 6%
9 Basketball 4%

 

Tennis 5%
10 Rugby league 4%

 

Yoga 5%

Barriers to participation

In 2013, the Australian Sports Commission in partnership with the CSIRO released two reports: Market Segmentation for Sport Participation (Adults aged 14-65 years) and Market Segmentation for Sport Participation – Children (aged 5-13 years old). This research reported a range of barriers to club participation including that Australians:

  • are increasingly time poor, have limited budgets and are being inundated by new forms of entertainment
  • have new preferences for greater flexibility, more tailored products and sport that works around peoples’ busy lifestyles
  • are increasingly favouring more flexible, non-organised forms of physical activity, such as running with headphones on and pursuing new adventure sports
  • are developing new tastes as our population becomes more culturally diverse
  • adolescents are self-conscious and embarrassed by their lack of sporting ability.

In recognition of the fact that there has been an increase in non-organised or time-flexible pursuits and a stagnation of participation numbers in organised sport, the research provided key insights outlining how the sport sector can influence motivations and behaviours that children have towards sports club membership.

The benefits of being active

Participating in sport a coach and football teamAn active population brings health, social and economic benefits.  The Office of Sport is therefore committed to increasing participation in sport and active recreation to address rising obesity rates and reduce healthcare costs to cardiovascular and other lifestyle related diseases.  Being active doesn’t only have a positive impact on physical health, it can improve our mental and emotional wellbeing too.

However, the sector is evolving rapidly and facing major challenges.  A sustainable sport and recreation system will need to adjust to new preferences for greater flexibility, more tailored products and sport that works around peoples’ busy lifestyles.

Grants and funding

In 2016/17 the NSW Government will be investing $207 million in major sporting infrastructure, programs, grants and facilities across the State – all of which will contribute to increasing participation across local communities.

Partnerships are key

The Office of Sport will be working with other key sector partners to review current approaches to driving increased participation and to develop new ways of achieving greater participation.

Through partnerships with the sport and active recreation sector, grants to sporting organisations and a focus on investing in sporting infrastructure, the NSW Government provides sporting communities with the support and facilities they need to drive active participation.

The Office of Sport leads a number of targeted participation initiatives involved in the Delivery Plan for meeting the Premier’s Priority for Childhood Overweight and Obesity.  Sport and active recreation will benefit from a state-wide program – Finish With the Right Stuff that will encourage 300 sports clubs during 2016/17 and 2017/18 to provide and promote healthier food and water to children playing junior sport.