Numbers of Welsh School Schildren Hooked on Sport Hits New Highs

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NUMBERS OF WELSH SCHOOL CHILDREN HOOKED ON SPORT HITS NEW HIGHS

As Welsh football and rugby make their mark on the world stage, newresearch by Sport Wales gives Wales another reason to celebrate as morechildren are taking part in sport more regularly.

Almost half of children in Wales (48%) are participating insport three or more times a week according to the third official School SportsSurvey*, launched today by Sport Wales.

The new figures, which form part of a survey of over 116,000Welsh school children making it the biggest survey of children carried out inthe UK to date, show an increase in sports participation across the board withsignificant increases being reported for those pupils less likely to be hooked.The survey revealed:

·        The number of pupils hooked on sport is up from40% in 2013 to 48% in 2015 – that’s enough children to fill the MillenniumStadium twice

·        Over half of boys (52%) are reported to be hookedon sport, up from 44% in 2013 and taking them above the national average

·        While not as high as their male classmates, thenumber of girls hooked on sport has increased from just over a third (36%) toalmost one in two (44%) and

·        The numbers of girls who reported enjoyingtaking part in sport and feeling more confident are significantly higher thanin 2013

·        40% of pupils with a disability are reported tobe hooked, up from just under a third (31%)

·        Black British children and those of mixed raceare much more likely to be hooked on sport than the national average, with 53% and52% reported to be hooked – a 15% and 11% increase on 2013 figures (37% and 41%)

·        More Welsh speakers (53%) than non-Welshspeakers (42%) are likely to be hooked on sport

Delighted by the results, Sport Wales CEO, Sarah Powell, said:“This is a huge achievement and not only for us but for the many partners thathave helped us get here. We couldn’t have done it without them.  These figures are the result of 10 years ofplanned and systematic investment which has made sure we’ve seen sustainedgrowth and continue to. There were no quick fixes but thanks to significantinvestment over the last decade we have managed to drive up those hooked onsport from just 27% in 2011 to 40% in 2013 and now 48%. That’s almost doublewhat it was in 2011.

“Now is the time to build on this success and continueinvestment. We know public finances are under pressure but sport offers us muchmore than a chance at future medals – it offers us the chance to make a real dentin childhood obesity and improve the health and wellbeing of young people. Itoffers us the chance to up life expectancy in a generation currently projectedto die younger than their parents. It’s clear that we have developed asuccessful formula to drive up participation, but there’s more to be done ifwe’re going to reach 75% hooked by 2026.”

Evidence shows that being hooked on sport is oftenunderpinned by a child’s ability, confidence and enjoyment. These are allcomponents of the ground-breaking £1.6m Welsh Government funded, Physical Literacy Programme for Schools (PLPS)developed by Sport Wales. The programme has proved during its pilot that drivingup motivation and confidence to play sport is key to getting children hooked.As has giving pupils a voice and listening to their ideas, making sessions funand keeping children engaged. The new figures show children are:

·        2 xmore likely to be hooked on sport if they are confident

·        5 xmore likely to be hooked on sport if they enjoyextra-curricular sport

·        9 xmore likely to be hooked on sport if their ideas are listened to

While participation is up across the board, there are stillsome persistent gaps – in particular, the gap between girls and boys remainsstubbornly at an eight percentage point difference when compared to 2013figures. Numbers of those with a disability and hooked on sport are still lowerthan the national average along with pupils from some minority ethnic communities.And those from deprived areas of Wales are still struggling to catch up withthe national average.

Sarah Powell continues: “Sport and physical activity has aunique and proven ability to help each child reach their potential. And theearlier we get to them, the better the results. The pupils in school today areour Gareth Bales and Sam Warburtons and our Non Stanfords and Jade Jones’. Theyare also our teachers, doctors, nurses, businessmen and women, and Ministers ofthe future.

“We now need a cross-sector approach that brings togetherour colleagues in sport, education and health to identify solutions that meetthe needs of those who feel sport has no place for them as we firmly believesport holds something for everyone. We’ve shown that it can unite communitiesand break down barriers.

“Children are nine times more likely to be hooked on sportif their ideas are listened to. So, let’s take everything children in Wales havetold us this year and do something positive with it.”

Commenting on the results, Deputy Minister for Culture,Media and Sport, Ken Skates, said: “It’s encouraging to see yet another rise inthe number of young people regularly participating in sport. This comes on theback of another successful period for Welsh sport, which I hope will inspireyoung people and help boost these figures even further.

“I am pleased with these results and commend all thoseinvolved in delivering the opportunities in schools, clubs and communitiesacross Wales that they represent.  Theyconfirm we are on track to create future generations of young people who arehooked on sport.

“We will use the data from the survey to help shape ourfuture investments and policies to address the gaps in participation and helpmeet our continuing challenge to ensure all children and young people have thesame opportunities to participate in sport and to become physically activeadults.”

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