Sport participation peaks at age 12 for boys and girls

Participation in sports has increased since the pandemic - pictured are ClubZap co-founders, Aidan Qulligan and Declan Murphy. (Picture: Conor McCabe Photography)

A positive legacy of Covid has been the rise in overall participation in sport in Ireland. Since March 2020, sports clubs have witnessed a 25% increase in member numbers nationwide. This is most prevalent in GAA and soccer with 34% and 23% increases respectively, while hockey sees a 12% increase.

Participation in sports peaks at age 12 for both male and female athletes. However, there is a noticeable drop off in participation amongst females after age 12, lasting until a low point in the mid-thirties where reactivation is common. This could be attributed to decisions to focus on education – i.e. Junior and Leaving Certs, college, university etc – before reactivating sports membership in their thirties.

This is not the case for males, who appear to have a more steady decline in participation from their mid-twenties to their sixties.

Average Membership by Sport

New data released by ClubZap, the sports club communications tool, shows that Wicklow is the most expensive county for sports clubs membership. The average cost of sports club membership in the Garden County is €145.70.

Dublin comes in at second, with membership costing on average €118.40 in the capital. Ulster is the most affordable region for membership fees.

Hockey was found to be the most expensive sport to play in Ireland. The average cost of membership to join a hockey club is as high as €167.52.

In contrast, athletics was seen to be the most affordable sport to participate in, with an average membership cost of €53.16.

Soccer was the most expensive of the ‘big three’ sports in Ireland with an average membership cost of €110.60 per season. Rugby had an average of €91.38, while it would cost a prospective member on average €77.52 to join a GAA club.

Basketball (€114.84), Triathlon (€97.94) and a variety of other sports averaging €136.45 make up the remainder of sports on record.

With the national average of €96.10, counties in The Avondhu circulation area compare favourably according to the data – membership in Cork averages €86.69, Waterford €91.63, Limerick €58.83 and Tipperary €49.48.

ClubZap forecasts that this trend will continue to grow in 2022 as there has been an increased engagement in local communities during the pandemic and this doesn’t look to change as the pandemic subsides and normality resumes.