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Children's sports participation in England 2008-2018

In 2017/2018, approximately 86.4 percent of children in England participated in sports monthly. Participation fluctuated during the observation period with highest participation rate of 91.1 percent recorded in 2009/2010.

Young boys do more sports than young girls.

Especially between the ages of five and ten, young boys are more active in sport than young girls. Approximately 87 percent of boys in that age group participated in sports monthly in comparison to 79 percent of girls. The findings are a result by a survey commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and its partner Arm’s Length Bodies. Children between the age of 11 and 15 were asked if they had actively participated in any sport for a minimum of 30 minutes in the four weeks prior to the survey and parents of five to ten year old children were asked the same question.

Swimming and football are the most popular sports among children.

The most popular sport for children between the age of five and ten is swimming, diving or lifesaving with almost half of the respondents (49.5 percent) participating in the past four weeks. Swimming was also highly popular among 11 to 15 year olds. However, highest share of children within that age group, 44.7 percent, participated in football monthly.

Share of children (aged 5-15) participating in any sport in the last 4 weeks in England from 2009 to 2018

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Release date

August 2018


United Kingdom (England)

Survey time period

2008/09 to 2017/18

Number of respondents


Age group

5-15 years

Method of interview

Face-to-face interview

Supplementary notes

* n (2016/17) = 1605; n (2015/16) = 1780; n (2014/15)=1825; n (2013/14) = 2019: n (2012/13) = 1937; n (2011/12) = 1811; n (2010/11) = 2706, n (2009/10) = 3159; n (2008/09) = 2622.
Survey periods run April to March.

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Statistics on "State of health of children in the United Kingdom (UK)"

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