More Children Hooked On Sport

Sport Wales today revealed an almost 50% increase in the number of Welsh children taking regular part in sport and physical activity. Canvassing the opinions of 110,000 Welsh schoolchildren (almost 40% of the 7-16 year old age group in Wales), from almost 1000 schools (around two-thirds of Wales' total), Sport Wales'School Sport Surveyis the largest survey of any kind of young people in the UK, and is thought to be the largest survey of its kind in the world.  It is a comprehensive state of the nation analysis, rather than a mere snapshot. 

As well as showing that the numbers of young people taking part in sport or physical activity three or more times a week has risen from 27% in 2011 to 40% in 2013, the survey also revealed:

  • 91% of children enjoy school sport
  • Boys (44%) were still more likely than girls (36%) to regularly participate in sport and physical activity, though the figures for both have increased, the gap remains static
  • Making sport and physical activity enjoyable and fun is critical to boosting participation by children and young people
  • School is the most important place in which children learn the competence and confidence to participate in physical activity

Commenting on the survey results, Sport Wales Chair, Professor Laura McAllister said:

"These excellent figures show what is possible when the sport and education sectors work together.  They also help us understand how to encourage tomorrow's generation to participate more in sport and physical activity. But, there are still challenges ahead and we need to build upon the success that we are creating uniquely in Wales.

"We risk losing the enormous gains made if we do not listen to the voice of our children.  At a time of public austerity it is not a question of more money. It is about investing in our children's future through the health, education and sports sectors working better together to give our children the best start in life. 

"The most cost effective way to build on the gains made, and to make sure all of our children share in the opportunity, is to place schools at the centre of a community developing a generation of healthier bodies as well as minds."

Sport Wales'School Sport Surveyalmost tripled the number of children participating (from 40,000 in 2011 to 110,000 in 2013), and means that local authorities, Education Consortia and Health Boards across Wales will now have detailed local information on which to further increase the numbers of young people participating in sport and physical activity in and after school.

For Sarah Powell, Chief Executive Officer of Sport Wales, the Survey underlines how Sport Wales's efforts to improve sport and physical activity have made a difference:

"These results demonstrate that Sport Wales' ambitionto get every child hooked on sportis on track and bearing fruit. The sheer scale of response also reveals the importance so many schoolchildren and teachers attach to taking part in sport and physical activity. The positive relationship we have built with education will be vital to building on and improving today's figures.

"The work in primary and secondary schools funded by Sport Wales over the last ten years, with after-school clubs and the wider sports community, has opened up opportunities for every child to try out a wider variety of sports and physical activities. These have been delivered in an enjoyable and fun environment, building children's confidence and interest to do more. 

"The School Sport Surveyresults build on other evidence suggesting an increase in participation since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - for instance sports club membership in Wales passed the 500,000 mark for the first time ever, and there has been a big rise in disability sport opportunities. Although London 2012 was a point of inspiration, we need to sustain growth in sports participation through better understanding of young people and by delivering services they want. This also means better understanding the needs of women and young girls, ethnic communities and those in our poorer communities. The Survey's findings show that these groups lag behind and still means there is much work to be done, and that while we can be pleased with today's Survey results, there is no room for complacency."

With the aim of empowering and inspiring young people to become role models and leaders through sport, and with an army of around 2000 young people in Wales aiming to increase participation amongst their peers, the Young Ambassador (YA) movement is supportive of the survey as one of Wrexham's YAs explains;

"It is obviously fantastic that so many young people across Wales have been given the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on school sport. Those who are involved in shaping the delivery, must now sit up and listen, and most importantly take action.

"The young people of Wales have spoken and we are now in the best placed position to be answering their needs and ensuring that all children have suitable opportunities to get hooked on sport.

"We as Young Ambassadors are excited about the future of school sport and committed to working alongside those responsible for planning and implementation to support the delivery of changes to get more young people, more active."

To find out more about the survey and view the results visit



*The latest National Statistics from the Welsh Health Survey produced by the Welsh Government were released on 19 September 2012 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

**Sport Wales is named as a producer of Official Statistics in The Official Statistics (Wales) Order 2013.  The Order came into force on 1st April 2013.  The Order designates statistics produced by Sport Wales as Official Statistics for the purposes of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.  This means that the statistics produced will be expected to comply with the standards set out in theCode of Practice for Official Statistics and will be subject to monitoring and reporting by the UK Statistics Authority.

As part of this compliance,we have to ensure that Official Statisticsshould be made available to everyone at the same time, with limited exceptions, and that statistics should be available in as much detail as is reliable and practical. 

The national results show:

  • 79% of boys and 73% of girls have taken part in extra-curricular sport at least once in the last year (an increase from 73% boys and 69% girls in 2011).
  • Of those young people that have taken part in sport - 40% now take part in sport three or more times a week compared to 27% in 2011.
  • 54% are members of a sports club compared with 45% in 2011. Overall, 61% of boys and 46% of girls are sports club members in 2013 (an increase from 52% boys and 38% girls in 2011).
  • The most popular sport for boys is football with 51.3% taking part at least once in the last year, compared with 41.4% in 2011. For girls the most popular sport is netball at 32%, up from 28.6% in 2011

Estyn recognises the survey as an effective tool for evidencing well-being in their self-evaluation guidance for schools.

Overall, 921 schools - 59% of all eligible schools in Wales - have qualified for an individual report. 1,060 teaching staff completed the provision survey to provide information on the school sport they offer.