Cricket is being played in record numbers according to independent participation figures announced by Cricket Australia today.
The release of the 2013-14 National Cricket Census, shows 1.106 million Australians participated in cricket during 2013-14, cementing cricket as the number one participation sport in Australia as measured by independent research firm, Street Ryan.
The 2013-14 Census, which coincides with Australian cricket’s annual participation campaign, PlayCricket Week, revealed that Australians have flocked to play cricket at local grounds, schools and indoor centres across the nation with figures up 16 per cent on last year and an incredible 30 per cent over the past four years.
The huge growth in national participation since 2010-11, which equates to around 255,000 additional cricketers in Australia, is largely attributed to a strong focus on making cricket more accessible for players of all ages, genders and cultural backgrounds across the country.
Key findings from the 2013-14 National Cricket Census include:
The 1.106 million cricket participants in Australia in 2013-14 represent 16 per cent growth from 2012-13
The overall participation rates for cricket across 2013-14 are broken down as follows:
537,000 School participants
400,000 Club/community participants
169,000 Indoor participants
Key growth areas:
A 39 per cent increase in female participation in cricket bringing the total number for 2013-14 up to 247,000. Females make up 22 per cent of total cricket participants;
A 30 per cent increase in school participation driven by entry level programs including MILO in2CRICKET Skills, MILO T20 Blast School Cups and Active After School Care
An eight per cent increase in traditional club cricket, bringing total participation up to 337,000 across Australia’s 477 cricket associations and 3,995 clubs. This is the biggest single year percentage growth in this segment for over five years.
In addition, Cricket Australia (CA) established a baseline on the diversity of club cricket for the 2013/14 season. Of club cricketers:
24% have a multicultural background
1.6% identify as indigenous
2% identify as having a disability.
CA Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the figures reflected Australian cricket’s strategic priority to substantially increase participation and inspire the next generation of players and fans.
“Our vision is for cricket to be Australia’s favourite sport and a sport for all Australians. To do that, our job is to encourage more people to play the game,” Mr Sutherland said.
“As simple as that may sound, we know that in this day and age there are plenty of obstacles and many things competing for people’s time.
“That’s why these figures are so pleasing. To register a 30 per cent increase in participation over four years demonstrates the game’s growing appeal and the critical role it plays in helping men, women and children lead active and healthy lives.
“To do this at a time when match attendances, television ratings and commercial partnerships are at record levels, demonstrates that our strategy is paying dividends with the foundations of the game incredibly strong.
“We are particularly pleased to see such a dramatic increase in female participation, with girls and women now making up 22 per cent of all cricket participants around the country.
“This growth is reflective of the incredible work of state and territory staff and the ongoing enhancement of national programs which continue to provide kids with safe and enjoyable physical activity.
“It’s also clear that our elite men’s and women’s cricketers are doing an excellent job inspiring the next generation of players across the country.”
Mr Sutherland also paid tribute to the Australian Sports Commission for the financial support that helped cricket drive the record participation levels by funding the employment of 18 Participation Growth Officers in key locations around Australia since 2011.
He said the officers have been instrumental in driving entry level participation growth through grassroots programs such as MILO in2CRICKET and MILO T20 Blast across hundreds of schools and community centres.
CA’s partnership with School Sport Australia, which includes working closely with state and territory school bodies to embed cricket into schools, has also played a significant role in the participation growth with Australian primary and secondary students.
CA and State and Territory cricket Associations will this week aim to build on cricket’s position of strength with the launch of PlayCricket Week, a national campaign designed to involve as many people as possible with the game.
“PlayCricket Week is all about inspiring people across the nation to get involved in cricket, no matter who they are and where they come from. It’s a sport for all,” Mr Sutherland said.