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- 16 December 2013 00:00
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Sport England’s Active People Survey has revealed an increase in the number of people playing sport across the county but claimed there is still lots more to be done due to a decline in the number of 16-25-year-olds playing sport and a sharp drop in the popularity of activities like football and tennis.
The figures published this month show that there are now 15.5 million people in England playing sport once a week, every week, which is an increase of over 1.5 million since London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games back in 2005.
It means that England is the first host nation to have increased the number of people playing sport off the back of the Games.
It is a welcome boost after figures published in June showed a small participation dip that was blamed largely on the exceptionally cold winter when icy roads and waterlogged pitches kept people at home.
The new figures indicate that once the snow had cleared, people got back on their bikes and put on their trainers, indicating that the growth seen in 2012 was not just simply a one-off, post-Olympic and Paralympic bounce.
There was more good news as figures revealed that a record 1.67 million disabled people are now playing sport each week, up by 62,000 over the last year.
There are also record numbers when it comes to people of BME origin with 2.7 million now playing sport once a week every week.
"I think the first message is that 15.5 million people regularly participating in sport is very positive," said Sport England Chief Executive Jennie Price.
"It shows that the increase after the Games was not just a slight blip despite figures dropping slightly in April.
"This reduction has gone back up which is very positive and a testament to the English public.
"I am particularly pleased to see record numbers of disabled people playing sport, which is a real testament both to the impact of the Paralympics and our increased investment in the grassroots.”
But there are clear areas of concern with the key 16-25-year-old age group having declined by 51,000 over the last year to 3.74 million.
While this means the majority of this age group still play sport regularly the numbers are not going up.
Also a concern is a decrease in the number of people playing football, which has fallen from 1.94 million to 1.84 million, and tennis, which has fallen from 423,400 to 400,600.
Due to the falls, both have been warned by Sport England that part of their public funding is at risk.
Football is now England’s fourth most popular sport behind athletics and cycling in terms of participation, with swimming the most popular while tennis has been criticised for failing to capitalise on Andy Murray's Wimbledon win in July.
"We are concerned about the results for young people,” added Price.
"Although the majority of 16-25 year olds still play sport regularly, the numbers are not going up.
"The evidence shows a sharp drop in the popularity of traditional sports and we need to make sure they have a wider range of sporting activities to choose from."
To see the full Sport England Active People Survey, Click Here