Almost two million people are now participating in football, according to a new FFA audit...despite a claimed $500 million funding shortfall.
There are now more than 1.8 million Australians participating in football, an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year, the latest annual Football Federation Australia census claims.
But the results of the annual census come after FFA conducted an audit of facilities with Member Federations which identified a $500 million facilities funding gap.
The Everybody’s Game audit found football is being held back by inadequate facilities and in many areas across Australia, the sport has outgrown the facilities available to participants.
“We are calling on government to join with us to deliver improved facilities and programs which can help improve participation even further, drive gender equality, integrate new communities and deliver strong preventative health outcomes,” said FFA CEO David Gallop.
The census, which takes in "affiliated football participation", shows a significant increase across all areas of the game including Futsal, school participation and a continued rise in the number of female participants.
“Our women and girls participation base continued to increase and provide one of the greatest growth opportunities for Football. International tournaments including the 2018 AFC Asian Cup, Women’s Cup of Nations and rebel Female Football Week have played a key role in driving new women and girls to our game, now boasting over 141,000 registered participants,” he said.
Gallop praised the work done by state federations across Australia and the A-League and W-League clubs for their work in encouraging participation in the game.
"Our football clubs across the country are filled with volunteers that keep putting in countless hours to ensure football continues to flourish," said Gallop.
Key census stats for 2018
13% overall growth on 2017 participation
1.5% growth in outdoor affiliated participation
2% growth in Women & Girls participation
2% growth in ALDI MiniRoos
30% growth in other formats including Futsal and Social Football
11% growth in Schools participants including School programs and tournaments
FFA executive in charge of football development Emma Highwood said the new data on participation reveals football continues to attract, engage and retain more participants community clubs.
“The efforts and investment from our volunteers, coaches and referees ensure we provide participants with a positive experience, which is highlighted by a 72 per cent participant retention rate," she said.
"Aldi MiniRoos continues to be our marquee program and the leading junior introductory program within Australia, with over 227,000 boys and girls playing.
“We have increasingly leveraged our games greatest assets; the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League Clubs, to engage and connect with new markets.
"This is reflected with over 14% growth in school participation, community events and promotional experiences delivered by the clubs, as we focus on converting our football participation base into fans."