Insight Update

4GLOBAL celebrates International Women’s Day by revealing 177% increase in football participation

4GLOBAL, the UK-based data, services and software company focused on major sporting events and the promotion and measurement of physical activity, celebrates International Women’s Day by analysing women’s participation rates across various sports.

4GLOBAL has identified a 177% increase in adult women’s football in the UK when comparing April-November 2021 versus 2019.

Data from leisure sites from across the country showed that across all UK there are 35,462 more women playing football than two years before. This equates to an additional 320,000 visits between April and November 2021.

Deniece MacDonald, Partner and Chief Operating Officer of 4GLOBAL, commented: “We understand the impact that the pandemic has had on people’s fitness and the leisure industry, so it’s really encouraging to see that participation rates in football have recovered so well among women.

“The Women’s Euros this spring should provide even more inspiration for women to get on the pitch.”

4GLOBAL has also mapped how the first few months after lockdown in 2021 saw more men returning to gyms and leisure sites, but over time women drew level with the men, before pulling ahead.

Between April and July 2021 there were more men returning to leisure sites than women. 53% of participants were men and 47% were women. This was driven by the lifting of restrictions on some activities – like solo fitness.

Once more restrictions were lifted and group exercise became available, the women to men participation ratio in leisure centres started to go back to pre-Covid levels, reaching at 53% for women compared to 47% for men towards the end of 2021.

Early results from January to February 2022 shows a further shift, with women making up 57% of visits to gyms compared to 43% by men.

Additionally, more sociable group workout classes such as dance, group fitness and aerobics have shown the greatest recovery compared to traditional more individual based classes like yoga, Pilates and spinning, highlighting women’s preference to more sociable sports compared to men who prefer to exercise solo. These types of classes show an 82% recovery in terms of visits compared to the same period in 2019.

In comparison the recovery rate for traditional individual based classes was 47%. Swimming has also recovered strongly with over 90% of its female users, showing to be a strong driver behind women’s return to activity post covid.

Deniece MacDonald said: “Traditional sports, like swimming, have recovered most strongly. However, there was always a worry that after the pandemic people would be more wary about returning to more sociable group exercise.

“It’s fantastic to see the recovering confidence levels among women in returning to leisure facilities to take part in non- traditional forms of activity too. Being able to turn our data into real intelligence is hugely helpful in aiding the recovery from Covid but also helps to show us where we need to target funding to ensure everyone has the confidence to return to leisure facilities after the pandemic.”

4GLOBAL’s has used its industry leading Datahub to produce these findings. Their platform draws on information supplied by hundreds of leisure sites across the UK, analysing more than 1.3 billion data points about the physical activity of over 20 million people.

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