Roy Morgan says that back in June 2014, 50% of Aussie kids (or 1,213,000 children) reported going swimming, ahead of 47% (1,136,000) who said they played soccer. Since then, soccer has gained an extra 108,000 young players, to hit a 50% participation rate (1,244,000); while swimming participation has fallen by 32,000 kids and now sits at 48%.
While more Aussie kids are also taking part in athletics, cricket, netball and Australian Rules football than they were 12 months ago, the increases for these sports are negligible when compared with the boom in soccer participation.
Ten most popular sports among Australian children 6-13
But soccer’s rise is not simply the result of more boys playing it: it is becoming increasingly popular with girls as well. So much so, in fact, that a higher proportion of Australian girls (39%) now play soccer than netball (37%), a sport traditionally associated with girls.