FOOTBALL participation has reached a record 302,662 following the official release of 2016 AFL Census figures.
The total number includes a 27 per cent increase on WA’s 2015 participation total, plus an additional 15,570 captured for the first time in the AFL Census under one-off club-based programs such as the Nicky Winmar Cup, Kirby Bentley Cup and remote and regional carnivals.
Growth has been driven by strong club participation, continued growth of female football, quality interschool competitions and a rise in the number of introductory school programs.
WA football participation was the highest for any state outside Victoria and made up 20.4 per cent of Australia’s overall total of 1,404,176, which increased nationally by 12.5 per cent.
The number of players who joined football clubs in WA increased by 7.7 per cent to more than 67,000, which included a 5.9 per cent growth in youth football and a 61.3 per cent increase in the number of females playing club football.
The total number of female club football teams in WA almost doubled from 84 to 157 to accommodate strong growth in female club participation.
Another important area to record solid participation growth was junior football, which increased by 9.3 per cent (30,940 participants) due to improved transition of Auskick participants. Auskick numbers also increased in WA by 5.1 per cent to 41,709 participants.
WA Football Commission chief executive officer Gavin Taylor said the commission was undertaking a significant amount of work to continue driving participation growth and would be implementing further engagement and retention strategies.
“With the anticipation building towards the start of the AFL Women’s competition early next year, a significant amount of work is being undertaken on a Female Participation Strategy,” Mr Taylor said.
He said this would ensure the expected increase in female participation demands were met and clubs offered positive environments for new players.