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Decline in organised team sports contributes to dip in Irish sport participation

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A decrease in the number of individuals taking part in team sports such as Gaelic Football and soccer has resulted in an overall dip in physical activity in Ireland according the the latest statistics.

While 1.7m people are getting physically active every week, between May and October 2015 Sport Ireland found that 46.3 per cent of the population had declared that they had taken part in sport the previous week compared to 48 per cent over the same period in 2013.

A drop in organised competition – 7.6 per cent of the population in 2015 compared to 10.2 per cent in 2013 – and a decline of people taking part in team sports contributed to the overall decrease. Gaelic Football participation went from 2.7 per cent of the population in 2013 to 2.3 per cent in 2015, while soccer participation decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 5.2 per cent.

An increase in taking part in physical activity alone, from 38.5 per cent of the population in 2013 to 42.7 per cent in 2015, saw exercise, running, cycling, weight and yoga all post increases in participation. However swimming (10.5 per cent to 8.7 per cent) and dancing (4.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent) experienced substantial dips.

According to Sport Ireland, the general decrease may be attributed to improvements in the nation’s economic situation with more people returning to work and perhaps “sacrificing some of their sporting activities”.

Irish sports minister Michael Ring said that he was encouraged by Ireland’s social participation in sport, which saw club membership, volunteering and event attendance remain steady at 48.6 per cent of the population.

“Social participation in sport is very important, not just in terms of supporting sport and sporting organisations but also in maintaining the social fabric in Irish communities,” he said.

Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy said there was no room for complacency, adding that the body had to “understand the factors behind the decline” and “focus attention on specific groups that may be reducing their activity level”.

The read the full report click here.

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A decrease in the number of individuals taking part in team sports such as Gaelic Football and soccer has resulted in an overall dip in physical activity in Ireland according the the latest statistics.
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Michael Ring (centre) said he was encouraged by the rate of social sport participation / Press Association
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