Almost half of children in Wales (48%) are participating in sport three or more times a week according to the third official School Sport Survey*, launched today by Sport Wales.

The new figures, which form part of a survey of over 116,000 Welsh school children making it the biggest survey of children carried out in the UK to date, show an increase in sports participation across the board with significant increases being reported for those pupils less likely to be hooked. The survey revealed:

  • The number of pupils hooked on sport is up from 40% in 2013 to 48% in 2015 - that's enough children to fill the Millennium Stadium twice
  • Over half of boys (52%) are reported to be hooked on sport, up from 44% in 2013 and taking them above the national average
  • While not as high as their male classmates, the number of girls hooked on sport has increased from just over a third (36%) to almost one in two (44%) and
  • The numbers of girls who reported enjoying taking part in sport and feeling more confident are significantly higher than in 2013
  • 40% of pupils with a disability are reported to be hooked, up from just under a third (31%)
  • Black British children and those of mixed race are much more likely to be hooked on sport than the national average, with 53% and 52% reported to be hooked - a 15 and 11 percentage point increase on 2013 figures (37% and 41%)  
  • More Welsh speakers (53%) than non-Welsh speakers (42%) are likely to be hooked on sport

SSS Infographic

Delighted by the results, Sport Wales CEO, Sarah Powell, said: "This is a huge achievement and not only for us but for the many partners that have helped us get here. We couldn't have done it without them.  These figures are the result of 10 years of planned and systematic investment which has made sure we've seen sustained growth and continue to. There were no quick fixes but thanks to significant investment over the last decade we have managed to drive up those hooked on sport from just 27% in 2011 to 40% in 2013 and now 48%. That's almost double what it was in 2011.

"Now is the time to build on this success and continue investment. We know public finances are under pressure but sport offers us much more than a chance at future medals - it offers us the chance to make a real dent in childhood obesity and improve the health and wellbeing of young people. It offers us the chance to up life expectancy in a generation currently projected to die younger than their parents. It's clear that we have developed a successful formula to drive up participation, but there's more to be done if we're going to reach 75% hooked by 2026."

Evidence shows that being hooked on sport is often underpinned by a child's ability, confidence and enjoyment. These are all components of the ground-breaking £1.6m Welsh Government funded,Physical Literacy Programme for Schools(PLPS) developed by Sport Wales. The programme has proved during its pilot that driving up motivation and confidence to play sport is key to getting children hooked. As has giving pupils a voice and listening to their ideas, making sessions fun and keeping children engaged. The new figures show children are:

  • 2x more likely to be hooked on sport if they areconfident
  • 5x more likely to be hooked on sport if they enjoy extra-curricular sport a lot
  • 9x more likely to enjoy PE a lot if their ideas are listened to

While participation is up across the board, there are still some persistent gaps - in particular, the gap between girls and boys remains stubbornly at an eight percentage point difference when compared to 2013 figures. Numbers of those with a disability and hooked on sport are still lower than the national average along with pupils from some minority ethnic communities. And those from deprived areas of Wales are still struggling to catch up with the national average.

Sarah Powell continues: "Sport and physical activity has a unique and proven ability to help each child reach their potential. And the earlier we get to them, the better the results. The pupils in school today are our Gareth Bales and Sam Warburtons and our Non Stanfords and Jade Jones'. They are also our teachers, doctors, nurses, businessmen and women, and Ministers of the future.

"We now need a cross-sector approach that brings together our colleagues in sport, education and health to identify solutions that meet the needs of those who feel sport has no place for them as we firmly believe sport holds something for everyone. We've shown that it can unite communities and break down barriers.

"Children are nine times more likely to enjoy PE in schools a lot if their ideas are listened to. So, let's take everything children in Wales have told us this year and do something positive with it."

Commenting on the results, Deputy Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, Ken Skates, said: "It's encouraging to see yet another rise in the number of young people regularly participating in sport. This comes on the back of another successful period for Welsh sport, which I hope will inspire young people and help boost these figures even further.

"I am pleased with these results and commend all those involved in delivering the opportunities in schools, clubs and communities across Wales that they represent.  They confirm we are on track to create future generations of young people who are hooked on sport.

"We will use the data from the survey to help shape our future investments and policies to address the gaps in participation and help meet our continuing challenge to ensure all children and young people have the same opportunities to participate in sport and to become physically active adults."