Australians love sport.
Whether it’s football, swimming, cycling, tennis or one of the many other sports that we love to get involved in, Australians often punch well above our weight in terms of sporting success relative to our population.
Team sports are one area that we do particularly well in.
In Rugby League, Cricket, Rugby Union, Hockey, Netball and Basketball we are often ranked in the top 5 teams worldwide for both men and women, which is an amazing achievement given our population of approximately 23 million.
Then we have our own game, Australian Rules Football, which is only played professionally in Australia (so we’ll take #1 there) and the recent rising success of our men’s and women’s soccer teams continues to see us improve against soccer’s powerhouse nations such as Brazil, Germany and Argentina.
So what makes us such a competitive and sports loving nation?
A lot of it has to do with our strong grassroots sporting clubs and competitions that encourage and develop the participation and skills of kids from a young age. But even before children join competitive sports they are often surrounded by parents who have a great passion and take great pride in the success of national teams and favourite sporting clubs and this passion naturally gets passed onto kids who then want to be just like their sporting heroes.
But in terms of numbers what are the most popular sports for Australian Kids?
A recent Roy Morgan Research Study looked at the participation rates of Australian kids and some of the figures are very interesting.
Most Popular Team Sports for Australian Kids Aged 6-13
1. Soccer: (48.7% = % of kids aged 6-13 actively involved in sport)
Soccer (also known as football) is now the number one team sport played by Australian kids. It comes in a very close second to swimming in overall participation rates with over 1.194 Million kids regularly playing soccer.
The growth of soccer is often attributed to the growing success of our international teams the Matildas (women’s team) and the Socceroos (men’s team) who recently won the Asian cup and also made the finals of the last two World Cups.
Then there’s the national competition, the A-League, that continues to grow in popularity.
Some other factors contributing the growth of Soccer in Australia is the social side of weekend games and the fact it is non-contact and offers great exercise for kids. Kids and parents alike are enjoying being involved with local competitions.
If you’d like to introduce your child to soccer and learn the skills of the game from some of our country’s best player and experienced coaches, register for one of the many 3-day soccer programs run over school holiday around the country.
2. Basketball (30.5%)
As the second highest team participation sport in Australia, Basketball has around 748,000 6-13-year old’s competing regularly. With a long standing national competition and a strong grass roots organisation basketball continues to grow. Played extensively throughout schools, basketball is enjoyed by many because of its fast, free flowing action and is suitable for everyone to join in on the action.
Basketball skills programs are held throughout the country for 6-16 year old’s.
3. Cricket (25.7%)
Cricket is a national pastime in Australia. We have always had a very strong international team and sometimes the countries and the media’s interest in cricket can border on obsession. With so many iconic players from days gone by including, Don Bradman, Dennis Lillee, Merv Hughes, Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting we are recognised around the world as a leading cricketing nation.
Cricket invests a lot into its grassroots competitions and most Australian kids at some stage in their life will pick up the bat and ball and go for a hit down the park, at the beach or even to the local cricket nets.
There are currently 631,000 juniors actively involved in cricket competition and many cricket skills programs for young kids to learn the basics and get involved.
4. Netball (20.5%)
Australia’s women’s netball team has long been the dominant force in international competition, maintaining a fierce, long running rivalry with the New Zealand team.
Netball has always been predominantly played by women although recently more and more men and boys are getting involved. Netball is hugely popular in schools and communities across Australia and remains the most popular team sport for females in Australia.
Netball Coaching Clinics are available for girls from 6-16 across all school holiday periods.
5. Aussie Rules Football (17.9 %)
Aussie Rules Football is the only sport in the list that is born in Australia and we remain the only country in the world to play in professionally. Born in the southern states of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania where it is often more of a religion than a sport, Aussie Rules and the AFL has expanded significantly into Queensland and NSW with the teams from these states having great success in the national competition.
Although junior participation is at 17.9% ‘Aussie Rules’ remains one of Australia’s great sporting traditions.
To learn how to play ‘Aussie Rules’, try a Aussie Rules Skills Program (for kids aged 6-16).
6. Rugby League
Another great footballing code, embraced by Australians, is Rugby League. Again, Australia has long been the #1 team in the world dominating World Cups and having the strongest national competition.
Just as AFL dominates the southern states, Rugby League is loved in NSW and Queensland but has also expanded due the success of the Melbourne Storm. Rugby League is a fast and tough sport with a strong history and a bright future.
To learn how to play Rugby League try a Rugby League Skills Program (for kids aged 6-16).
Other popular sports include Rugby Union, Hockey, Baseball and Volleyball and all offer great grass root organisations and coaching clinics to teach kids the skills of the game and meet new friends.