Trends & Features

Record sports participation figures released

The number of people in England playing sport every week has topped 15 million for the first time.

Figures released by Sport England show that 15.28 million people aged 16 and over are playing sport at least once a week, 500,000 more than six months ago and 1.3 million more than in 2005/6 when London won the Olympic bid.

Twenty-one sports have shown a positive trend over the past six months, with particularly strong growth in the Olympic sports of cycling, football, athletics and hockey.

The number of disabled people who are playing sport every week has also increased.

“This is a strong set of results, with all of the key measures showing participation in sport is increasing,” says Jennie Price, Sport England’s chief executive.

“As we approach the London Games some of our key sports such as cycling and hockey are already beginning to feel the Olympic effect.

“I am particularly pleased there has also been a sharp increase in the number of disabled people who are playing sport every week.”

Overall, the growth in sports participation continues to be driven by those aged 26 and over.

Although results for the 16-25 age group are more positive than they were six months ago, there is still a long-term downward trend that Sport England is attempting to tackle through the new Youth Sport strategy announced in January.

The Sport England figures also show encouraging signs of recovery among a number of sports where participation had fallen in recent years, including rugby league, rugby union and golf, which have had their Sport England funding reduced, but have made significant changes in their participation strategies.

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