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CALD communities embracing soccer and cricket, sports survey finds

3 May 20190 comments

When it comes to sport Australia’s diverse communities are into football (soccer), running, cricket and basketball, according to a new survey of sports participation.

The ‘AusPlay’ survey, released this week by peak body Sport Australia, shows the twenty most popular sports in Australia, in which a greater percentage of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community members are involved, when compared to the national average.

These sports are football (7.8 per cent CALD compared to 5.4 per cent national average), fitness/gym (36 per cent compared to 33.8 per cent), running (16.5 per cent compared to 15.3 per cent), cricket (3.2 per cent compared to 2.7 per cent), basketball (3.9 per cent compared to 3.5 per cent) and yoga (5.2 per cent compared to 4.8 per cent).

The survey found soccer was the most popular organised sport across Australia followed by tennis, golf, basketball, golf and AFL.

But the top five participatory sports were non-organised with walking, fitness/gym, swimming, running and cycling at the head of the list.

Overall, the survey showed a gradual increase in physical activity levels among Australians.

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer says the increase was encouraging, but warned it will require much more improvement and long-term behavioural change to combat Australia’s inactivity crisis.

For the first time, AusPlay has revealed Australia’s top 20 sports and physical activities along.

The first three years AusPlay has recorded an increase in the overall number of Australians participating in sport and physical activity – 63 per cent of Australians interviewed in 2018 have participated in sport or physical activity at least three times per week compared to 59.9 per cent in 2016.

Ms Palmer says it’s a step in the right direction, but solving Australia’s inactivity crisis is far more complex and requires generational change.

“The positive news in this data is that it shows Australians are making the effort to get moving because they are becoming more aware of the importance of sport and physical activity to their health and wellbeing,” she said.

“It’s a small step in the right direction, but we’re still falling a long way behind when it comes to meeting recommended physical activity guidelines. For example, research tells us only 19 per cent of children meet the recommended one hour of physical activity a day.

“Our general lifestyles are becoming more sedentary than ever before because of things such as technological advances, so that makes it critically important to find dedicated time for sport and physical activity in our lives.

“We need to move more and our lives depend on it. It is estimated physical inactivity now contributes to the deaths of 16,000 Australians every year. That’s shocking, it’s almost 14 times the national road toll,” Ms Palmer said.

Of the top 20 activities, 10 have predominantly male participants and 10 predominantly female.

The activities with the largest percentage of adult female participation are pilates (90 per cent), netball (89 per cent), dancing (89 per cent), and yoga (86 per cent).

The activities with the largest percentage of adult male participation are cricket (88 per cent), Australian football (84 per cent) and golf (81 per cent).

Activities with the closest gender equity among adults include bushwalking (51 per cent female), running (54 per cent male) and martial arts (55 per cent female).

There has been a surge in women regularly participating in Australian Football since the introduction of the AFLW.

The number of women (females aged 15+) participating at least once a week has risen from 31,542 in 2017 to 59,504 in 2018, while participation at least twice a week has gone from 19,005 to 48,225, a rise of 154 per cent.

But among the team sports in the top 20 activities, netball, football, basketball and touch football still have more female participation in that order.

Top 20 participation sports and activities (over 15 years and non-school)
1. Walking (recreational) 8,783,064
2. Fitness/Gym 6,874,541
3. Swimming 4,505,531
4. Running/Athletics 3,334,693
5. Cycling 2,359,660
6. Football 1,767,288
7. Tennis 1,202,011
8. Bush walking 1,189,493
9. Basketball 1,017,968
10. Golf 1,015,150
11. Yoga 984,362
12. Australian Football 913,668
13. Netball 901,903
14. Cricket 798,618
15. Dancing (recreational) 688,293
16. Pilates 585,706
17. Surfing 508,015
18. Gymnastics 489,058
19. Touch football 464,721
20. Martial arts 316,826


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist