Sport England figures show Squash in top 10 but numbers are dipping
By LEE HORTON – Squash Mad Reporter
SQUASH is the 10th most popular sport in England, according to figures published by Sport England today.
The latest Active People Survey, which measures participation levels based on the number of people taking part in an activity for at least 30 minutes a week, revealed that 240,700 over-16’s played squash at least once a week.
That figure showed a decrease on last year’s total of 257,100 representing a 0.55 drop but still showed the sport holding it’s own despite the economic downturn, closure of courts and the disappointment of missing out on Olympic Games inclusion.
Sport England has committed £13.5 million to squash and racketball with the twin aims of increasing the number of people playing the sport while maintaining the national squad’s world number one status.
Squash is one of three non-Olympic sports whose elite programmes are supported by Sport England alongside its talent development investment. Over the next four years we will invest £4.98 million in the England Squash and Racketball’s talent and elite programmes.
Only five sports have increased participation overall since 2005: athletics, cycling, boxing, table tennis and archery.
However, many are up from this point last year with cycling the stand out performer, increasing participation by 137,000 from April to October 2013.
The numbers participating in tennis has fallen by 39,000 from this point last year despite Andy Murray becoming Britain’s first Wimbledon’s men’s singles champion since 1936.
Football has dropped from being the nation’s second biggest sport in terms of participation to the fourth overall with 1.8m players.
Swimming is England’s biggest sport with more than 2.9m people taking part at least once a week, while athletics and cycling in second and third boast more than 2m weekly participants.
Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, said: “I am encouraged that sports participation is back up on the rise compared to six months ago and that participation among disabled people is at an all-time high. More women are getting involved too and I want to keep up that momentum.
“But there is still more to be done to encourage greater participation across the board. Sports governing bodies must step up and deliver for the half a billion pounds of public money that they receive. If they don’t, funding will be taken away and channeled into grassroots sport through other routes.”