Junior sport faces decline

STATISTICS reveal youths are participating less in traditional sports such as tennis and cricket, and Bendigo’s tennis chief says he’s not surprised.

National data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a decline in the number of boys and girls participating in tennis, with the number decreasing from 228,500 in 2003 to 205,200 in 2012. 

Instead kids are taking up dancing, with 418,100 participants in 2012, up from 329,300 in 2003. 

While some believed the findings were reason for concern, Bendigo Tennis Association executive officer Leon Retallick said the decline was to be expected.

He said there was now more sports and activities for kids to be involved in, including non-traditional sports such as dancing.

“Kids are doing things differently, there is more on offer,” he said.

“You can have a part-time job when you turn 14 and nine months.

“Football and netball clubs train all year round so there is just not enough time for everything.”  

Mr Retallick said the tennis club’s current season junior program had been steady. 

“We have had 84 junior tennis teams this season although four years ago we would have had around 100 and 20 years ago maybe 120,” he said. 

“Traditional sports just don’t have the following they used to. Mr Retallick said tennis was a great sport for kids to play.

“At entry level it is really cheap.

“It is the best thing for kids, it doesn’t matter about age or gender or religious beliefs.” 

Cricket participation rates for boys and girls also experienced a drop from 133,600 in 2003 to 130,700 in 2012, according to the report.

President of the Sandhurst Cricket Club Stephen Prowse said the club was always “battling for numbers”. 

“Junior numbers across the sport are very low,” he said. “We had to merge our under-nines with the Bendigo club to field a team this year.”

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