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18th of July 2018

Sport



Football a favourite for Kiwis

Football’s status as one of the most-played team sports in the country has been confirmed by the just-released findings of Active NZ, a Sport New Zealand survey that provides a snapshot of participation in sport and other active recreation across the country.

The wide-ranging report was published on June 28 and looks into how the nation’s population engages with sport. It marks the first time young people and adults have been surveyed together by Sport New Zealand.

The findings are hugely positive for football in both age groups with 19 per cent of young people having participated in football or futsal in the seven days prior to taking part in the survey - a number bettered only by individual recreation-based activities such as running, walking, swimming, biking, trampolining and scootering, making football the team sport of choice for the country’s youth.

According to the Active NZ report, football is also the most popular team sport amongst adults with golf the only traditional code to enjoy higher numbers.

The Sport New Zealand results are complemented by New Zealand Football’s own official participation numbers, which likewise confirm the beautiful game as one of the country’s favourite sports to play. There were over 210,000 recreational participants across all strands of the game in 2017 while 150,000 were registered to play.

The numbers are equally impressive at grassroots level with nearly 60,000 Kiwi kids taking part in junior football each weekend.

And it’s not just the playing figures which are on the rise with New Zealand Football’s extensive efforts in coach and referee development in recent years also bearing significant fruit. There are now over 17,000 registered coaches and 2,500 match officials contributing to the game across the country.

The rapidly-growing sport of futsal has meanwhile experienced a staggering rise in participation with a growth of 385 per cent in playing numbers since 2011.

Significantly, those involved with football in New Zealand are also largely satisfied with how the sport is being delivered. Last year, Sport New Zealand conducted a ‘Voice of Participant’ survey and footballers not only replied in their thousands but gave a resounding tick of approval. Those responding to the survey showed a 90 per cent overall satisfaction rate with the delivery of the sport in New Zealand.

The rise of football is largely a result of the award-winning Whole of Football Plan, which was introduced by New Zealand Football in 2011 and has delivered impressive results, as confirmed by the official registration numbers and Sport New Zealand’s latest findings.

"The Active NZ report is further confirmation of just how important football is in the lives of so many New Zealanders and underlines the great development work that has been undertaken since the introduction of the Whole of Football Plan," says Dave Payne, Chief Operating Officer for New Zealand Football.

"New Zealand Football wishes to thank the country’s seven federations, as well as all clubs, schools, tertiary institutions, players, coaches, referees, administrators, volunteers and fans for all their hard work in implementing the Whole of Football Plan and helping so many Kiwis fall in love with football," he adds.

"There is still much to be done as we work towards the two primary goals outlined in our strategic plan of more New Zealanders playing and loving football and our elite teams winning at global pinnacle events. But the participation numbers provide us with an extremely strong platform from which to build and it is clear there are exciting times ahead for everyone involved in football in this country."

The Active NZ survey was based on data collected over a 12-month period from January 2017 and found that 95 per cent of young New Zealanders participate in sport in any given week while that figure is 73 per cent for adults.

"Through the up-to-date evidence in this report, we now have a better understanding of participants and non-participants alike, as well as the overall landscape of participation in sport and active recreation in New Zealand," Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin says.

"Importantly, it tells us that sport and active recreation continue to play a key role in New Zealanders’ lives."

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