Participation Rise in Running & Cycling but Bad News for Soccer

December 17, 2010

Figures have been released by Sport England showing a significant increase in participation of numerous sporting activities, moving closer to the British Government’s aims to get one million people playing more sport by 2012/13.

The results show that events such as athletics and cycling have strongly increased over the last two years along with the likes of netball. The two major sports however, which receive over two million weekly participants – soccer and swimming – have both seen decreases in participation rates.

Overall the figures show that 6,938,000 people now take part in a sporting activity at least three times a week.

 The Government is now 123,000 people closer to their one million target.

Running has seen a participation boost by over 263,000 people over the past two years with cycling figures up by almost 100,000 and netball by 26,000, a growth of a fifth in the size of the sport over the same period.

Sport England’s Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: “It would be fair to describe today’s results as a mixed bag. It’s good to see a wide range of sports – from individual pursuits like running to small team sports like lacrosse – demonstrating that, with the right approach, increasing grassroots participation is a realistic ambition.”

“What is concerning, however, is that a number of major sports have yet to deliver, despite significant levels of investment. They now urgently need to demonstrate their ability to grow participation in their sport and prove they can make a significant contribution to sport at the grassroots level.”