Australian Sports Commission (ASC) data released today by Football Federation Australia (FFA) has put football as number one in club based participation sport, figures that ring true not only nationally but also across Northern NSW.
“It’s official, we are number one,” said an understandably proud Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive David Gallop.
“Football is Australia’s most popular club-based participation sport for adults and children because it is the most inclusive and accessible. Everyone is welcome in football regardless of gender, age, ability or background.
“Football is also the biggest global sport with the world’s highest profile players and competitions and the planet’s biggest event, the FIFA World Cup.
“The combination of local accessibility and global interest is attracting more and more Australians,” Gallop said.
Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland is equally proud of the games continued growth and presence in every community across Northern NSW.
‘Today’s announcement officially confirms what was widely accepted, that football is the largest sport in Northern NSW,’ Eland said.
‘The total number of registered players in Northern NSW alone has grown by 42% in the last decade to a record figure of 64,186 players for 2016.’
‘Aside from the international profile of the game, key drivers for this growth continue to be football’s appeal as a great game and its attractiveness to all ages and abilities for men, women, boys and girls, with huge growth in the number of females participating.’
‘It also reflects the accessibility of the game, with over 230 clubs across Northern NSW and the great value for money and affordability for those seeking to participate in sport, something that we have achieved through the stabilisation of registration fees by sound financial management and the support of major financial partners in Community Football such as the Newcastle Permanent Building Society,’ Eland said.
‘Importantly, the result also vindicates the countless hours and significant contribution made weekly by thousands of volunteers in effectively providing participation opportunities to players of all ages and skill levels at grounds right across Northern NSW,’ Eland concluded.
But the continued growth of the ‘World Game’ across Northern NSW is not without its challenges.
‘As our game continues to grow, we face a number of challenges, including increased pressure on facilities with added demands for drainage, lighting and amenities, as some clubs are stretched to accommodate the player demand in their area,’ Eland said.
‘As the governing body for the game, our responsibility is not only to grow participation but to ensure we partner with Local Government Authority’s, State and Federal Government and the individual clubs themselves in providing facilities that can cater for the demands of our game both now and well into the future, for we know that with the increased profile of the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and our men’s and women’s teams participation on the world stage within Asia and the FIFA World Cup, this is just the beginning of football’s rise,’ Eland concluded.