ACT News

Soccer beats netball as Australia's top sport for girls

It seems there's been an exodus of young female players from netball courts across the country with new research finding more girls are now playing soccer. 

Findings from the latest Roy Morgan Research Young Australians Survey show soccer has overtaken swimming as the most popular sporting activity among Australian kids. 

Players from the Bindabella Blues junior girls' academy Shannon Yalg,14, Amber Lalor,14, Tara Britt-Miller,17, Sarah ...
Players from the Bindabella Blues junior girls' academy Shannon Yalg,14, Amber Lalor,14, Tara Britt-Miller,17, Sarah Bailey,14, and Nikita Hewlett, 13.  Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The world-game has gained an extra 108,000 young players in the past 12 months, but the popularity boom is not simply a result of there being more boys playing the sport. 

While swimming remains the top sport for girls, for the first time soccer has slid into second place with a participation rate of 39 per cent for girls aged 6-13 year old. 

Brindabella Blues Football Club president Ken Yagl said there was a strong cohort of girls competing at his club, however he was surprised to learn soccer's participation rate was 2 per cent higher than netball. 

"We have about 300 girls playing with the club," he said. 


"With the World Cup and Asian Cup being on in the one year, the uptake in the sport is may be because it's just more visible."

He said with an estimated 17,000 soccer players across the ACT, soccer was a sport with enough depth to cater to all abilities and age groups. 

The youngest players being six and seven years old play on a 25metre field with four a side. 

"What this does is ensure they get more kicks of the ball and develop their skills, whereas in other sports players can sit out on a wing, or be lucky to even touch the ball at all," he said. 

"Contact is key to building player's confidence." 

Amber Lalor, 14, left playing basketball five years ago to play soccer and said she has never looked back. 

"I have been doing it since Under Nine's," she said. "I find soccer a far more fun sport to do." 

The Calwell High School student plays every winter season and has put her hand up for summer teams too. 

"I like to play midfield because I like to score goals but save the goals too," she said. 

Amber's mother Angela said her daughter's choice to switch made barracking on a Saturday far easier for the family. 

"The mad dash from one venue to another doesn't happen as much now," she said. "If it was netball, the games are often at the same time, so it would mean you might not even get to see them play."