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  • 12 June 2014 00:00
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Record numbers of people now playing sport reveals Sport England

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More people than ever in this country are now playing sport regularly according to new figures released by Sport England through their Active People Survey.

The latest Active People Survey results, which cover April 2013 to April 2014, show that the number of over-16s playing sport once a week, every week has risen to over 15.6 million.

This marks an increase of 180,000 in the last six months and rise of 1.7 million more than 2005 when London won the bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The largest growth has come from young people, with a record 3.9 million 16-25 year-olds playing sport regularly. 

This number has bounced back from a dip in figures reported in December 2013 as there has been a rise of 153,000 over the last six months.  

Sports driving the increase in this age group include football, netball and rugby union, all of which are showing signs of recovery after earlier falls in the numbers of young people playing their sport.

Within this age group, the biggest increase over the last six months has come from girls, with an increase of 85,000, compared to 68,000 for boys.

The sports of with netball and badminton have proved particularly popular with young girls and Sport England CEO Jennie Price is pleased with the new figures that have come out.

"These figures are really encouraging, with more people than ever before now playing sport regularly,” said Price.

"It’s good to see growth in the number of young people playing sport, especially girls.”

Despite the growth in the number of girls playing sport, there are still far more young males than young females playing sport and the Sport England CEO say this is something the agency is looking to address.

"There is much more to do, including closing the unacceptable gap in participation between young men and young women,” she said.

"This will be an important focus for Sport England over the next 12 months.”

The results demonstrated a promising six months for team sports with football, netball, rugby union, cricket, basketball and hockey all showing increases in the number of over-16s playing their sports regularly. 

Although individual sports such as running and cycling are showing the biggest growth, the figures suggested that team sports still have a great deal to offer, particularly when they adapt, for example by offering smaller sided games or shortened versions.

"It’s really encouraging that there are more people getting out there and playing sport than ever before, with 15.6 million participating regularly every week,” said Minister for Sport Helen Grant. 

"I am pleased that many team sports are getting their numbers up and with the strong performances from the likes of athletics and cycling.

"But there is still more work to do to get more women participating as well as those with a disability.

"I know that Sport England and sports governing bodies are working hard on this front as well as looking at innovative ways to appeal to people who may think that sport is not for them.”

To view the latest Sport England Active People Survey Results in full, Click Here 

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