Sport England Reveals a Drop in Teenage and Female Participation

December 9, 2011

With the Olympics and Paralympics in London right around the corner, many would assume that participation levels in England would be on the rise, yet Sport England have revealed ‘very disappointing’ results, which in fact show a decline in the number of teenagers and women playing sport.

The most alarming drop can be seen amongst the 16-19 age groups, where participation major sports including football have witnessed a drop in numbers playing.

Furthermore, the general number of females playing sport has decreased, despite sports such as running, table tennis and boxing being popular.

“This is a disappointing set of results,” said Sport England chief executive Jennie Price.

“If we are to maintain the current level of public investment in grassroots sport, we need more governing bodies to demonstrate they can increase participation in their sports.

“We are working in a tough climate, with a third of those playing less sport putting it down to economic factors, but the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year give us a great opportunity to reverse this trend.

“The results also clearly show that we need to work much harder with young people, given the fall in participation among 16- to 19-year-olds.

“We also need to tackle head on the widening gender gap by doing much more to make sport relevant and appealing to women.”

However, the figures were not all doom and gloom as there were some positives, including a rise in the amount of times people take part in sport a week. 6.927 million people are now taking part three times a week, which is 111,800 more than in 2007/08 and 632,000 more than in 2005/6. Results show that 14.759 million adults now break a sweat at least once a week, while the amount of men participating has increased since 2007/8.

The number of disabled people playing sport has witnessed a rise also, yet Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, could not hide his disappointment at the overall result.

“Although not unexpected, these figures are very disappointing,” said Robertson.

“It is for this reason that we have spent the second half of this year working with Sport England and governing bodies on a new strategy with particular emphasis on youth sport that we will announce in the New Year.

“This strategy will be based on concrete results in return for Government investment and will ensure we create a real and lasting sports legacy after London’s Games.”