Sport Australia recently released the latest AusPlay data which details sports participation across the nation.
Netball has retained its position as the leading team sport for women and girls in Australia, with over 1 million actively participating in netball and choosing netball as the sport they most closely identify with.
It is fantastic to read that female participation is on the rise in many other sports as well- in particular there has been a surge in women participating in AFL since the introduction of AFLW. In the 2017 survey there were 31,542 women participating in AFL once a week . This number has risen to 59,504 in 2018. The number of women participating in AFL twice a week or more has risen by 154% growing from 19,005 to 48,225!
We are also seeing an improvement in the professionalism of women’s sport, and it is fantastic to see so many role models emerging. As young girls are able to see more and more high level women’s sport, hopefully we will continue to see participation rates increase and girls will be more likely to continue playing sport as they grow through adolescence to early adulthood.
Athletes such as Jo Weston (Australian Diamonds netballer), Alyssa Healy (Australian cricket player), Erin Phillips (AFLW player), and Samantha Kerr (captain of the Matildas soccer team), are becoming more familiar names championing women’s sport and demonstrating high performance behaviours for young girls to aspire towards. The benefits of sport and physical activity are well known, and the more we can foster our young girls and young women to participate the better.
Netball, as a female dominated sport that has been around for a long time, has a well established pathway for participants. From NetSetGo for 5-10 year olds, through to club netball and pathways for elite performance, there are also avenues for recreational participation for all ages. There are many social netball competitions around Melbourne as well as Vic Health and Netball Victoria’s “Rock Up Netball” initiative which enables people to play when they like without the weekly commitment of a club or team.
Hopefully over time we begin to see these similar pathways across many other sports to help bring more young girls and women into sport and keep them involved across their lifespan.
Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor