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Northern Ireland Sport - the Figures

The majority of the population in Northern Ireland participate in sport

  • Almost 6 out of 10 of the adult population (59%) participate in one or more sports including walking
  • 72% of 16 - 19 year olds participate compared to 62% of 20 - 24 year olds
  • The three most popular activities are walking, swimming and keep fit. 4 out of 10 people go walking. Just over 1 out of 10 people go swimming and just under 1 in 10 are involved in keep fit
  • Leaving out those people who only walk shows that around 4 out of 10 people (38%) take part in sport and physical activities
  • Actively participating in sport appeals more to men than women and to younger rather than older people. Almost 7 out of 10 men (67%) participate compared to just over 5 out of 10 women (53%)

Where do people in Northern Ireland play their sport?

  • Around 12% of people in Northern Ireland are members of sports clubs
  • Most people take part in activities informally away from clubs either in parks or leisure centres
  • Around 15% of adult participants regularly participate in sport in leisure centres
  • Approximately 5% of adults are involved in competitive sport at some time in a year
  • About 4% of adults receive instruction or coaching in their chosen sport

People's views on Sport in Northern Ireland

  • Sports and physical activities are enjoyed by people from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland. Individual sports vary in popularity between Catholic and Protestant communities. Gaelic football and Hurling are viewed as exclusively associated with the Catholic tradition
  • almost 8 out of 10 people from all communities feel it is important that Northern Ireland achieves international sporting success
  • 8 out of 10 people believe that participants in their sport play fairly and by the rules, show self discipline and accept the decisions of officials

Sport is economically beneficial in Northern Ireland

  • People in Northern Ireland spend a total of 600,000 every day on sports related activities
  • Northern Ireland's sporting industry supports 12,500 jobs
  • Sport contributes 254 million to Northern Ireland's gross domestic product (GDP). This far exceeds the contribution of around 120 million received from local and central government

Sport adds enormously to people's quality of life

  • Collectively people in Northern Ireland derive a strong sense of pride, locally and nationally, from sport
  • Young people place considerable importance on sport in their lives
  • Individually it has been demonstrated that being physically active in Northern Ireland is associated with less of the most serious health problems affecting the population
  • People active in sport for three quarters of their lives have a much lower incidence of heart disease, angina or breathlessness than those less active
  • Those people active through sport have low coronary risk scores


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Contact: Shaun Ogle

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