New survey shows record number of people now playing sport on a regular basis
Last Updated: 13/06/14 8:29am
More people are playing sport regularly than ever before, according to new figures published today from Sport England.
According to the Active People Survey, which covers April 2013-April 2014, the number of over-16s playing sport once a week, every week, has risen to over 15.6m, an increase of 180,000 in the last six months and 1.7m more than 2005 when London won the bid to host the Games.
The largest growth is seen in young people, with a record 3.9m 16-25 year-olds playing sport regularly.
It’s good to see growth in the number of young people playing sport, especially girls, but there is much more to do, including closing the unacceptable gap in participation between young men and young women. This will be an important focus for Sport England over the next 12 months.
Sport England chief executive Jennie Price
This number has bounced back from a dip in figures reported in December 2013, increasing by 153,000 over the last six months.
Sports driving the increase in this age group include football, netball and rugby union, all of which are showing signs of recovery after earlier falls in the numbers of young people playing their sport.
Within this age group the biggest increase over the last six months has come from girls, with an increase of 85,000 (compared to 68,000 for boys), with netball and badminton proving particularly popular.
Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said: "These figures are really encouraging, with more people than ever before now playing sport regularly.
"It’s good to see growth in the number of young people playing sport, especially girls, but there is much more to do, including closing the unacceptable gap in participation between young men and young women. This will be an important focus for Sport England over the next 12 months.”
Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, said: “It’s really encouraging that there are more people getting out there and playing sport than ever before, with 15.6 million participating regularly every week.
"I am pleased that many team sports are getting their numbers up and with the strong performances from the likes of athletics and cycling.
"But there is still more work to do to get more women participating as well as those with a disability. I know that Sport England and sports governing bodies are working hard on this front as well as looking at innovative ways to appeal to people who may think that sport is not for them.”
The data also reveals a promising six months for team sports with football, netball, rugby union, cricket, basketball and hockey all showing increases in the number of over-16s playing their sports regularly.
Although individual sports such as running and cycling are showing the biggest growth, the figures released reveal team sports still have a great deal to offer, particularly when they adapt, for example by offering smaller sided games or shortened versions.