VicHealth research into club-based sport participation shows close to 80 per cent of young people up to age 14 in Shepparton are playing a team sport, but only half keep playing after they turn 15.
In Greater Shepparton, there is an overall participation rate, across all ages, of 18.6 per cent in club sport. It is the 27th highest rate out of the 40 regional local government areas.
Greater Shepparton City Council’s active living department manager Tony Tranter said it was encouraging to see high participation rates among young people.
He said there weren’t a lot of surprises from the study as it was a continuation of past trends.
Notably across the study, female participation in sport was half that of males in all age demographics.
‘‘There’s still a lot of work we can do to improve the drop in participation rates and encourage more female participation,’’ Mr Tranter said.
‘‘Sport is critical but council is also providing more unstructured non-competitive activities such as group fitness and the events in our Activities in The Park program.
‘‘As long as people are physically active and getting out — whether it is gardening, yoga or playing sport — it doesn’t matter.
‘‘If you are active and eating good food, you’re a long way to being healthy.’’
Mr Tranter said the traditional sports were managed by volunteers and council ‘‘absolutely’’ welcomed any conversation to try to find ways to make sport more attractive.
Federation University and Victoria University associate professor Rochelle Eime said the study was based on club registration data in 2015 from across 11 sports, such as AFL, basketball and soccer.
‘‘The data provides a better look at participation rates and will help state and local government and other agencies to look into the needs of different population demographics and plan infrastructure for the future,’’ Prof Eime said.
‘‘We know the health of communities are better where there is a high participation in sport and club-based sports offer great mental and social health benefits. These clubs are often the glue of the community.
‘‘While there are only half of females participating in team sports compared to males, the rate is increasing and there are more opportunities now than before.’’
On average, regional Victoria’s sport participation rates were higher than metropolitan areas.