Youth dump team sports for solo games

KICKING goals is out and high kicks and karate kicks are in among Hunter children.

Australian Bureau of Statistics sport participation figures show Australian children are now more likely to take up martial arts or dancing than team sports.

In the past decade children’s participation in dancing has increased 27 per cent and martial arts 24 per cent.

The Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities survey showed participation in netball declined 8 per cent between 2003 and 2012 and participation in tennis fell 10 per cent.

While swimming, soccer, AFL and netball still all made the top five sports the trend was away from team sports among children aged five to 14 in the three-yearly study.

The director of the Bureau National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics, Andrew Middleton, said there was a particular spike in the popularity of dancing among children aged five to eight.

‘‘Children are also spending less time watching TV than they did a decade ago,’’ he said.

‘‘[But] the proportion of children accessing the internet has increased.’’

While the Japanese martial art of Aikido does not involve kicking it appealed to Phoebe Cameron-Taylor, Adamstown, who followed brother Jamie into the pursuit.

Her mother, Erica, said the martial art was a good mix of solo work and group camaraderie as well as a mix of young and old.

‘‘Phoebe was concerned about being tied down by a team,’’ she said.

‘‘She found the interpersonal stuff with team sport was also a bit stressful.’’

Ms Cameron-Taylor said it also opened a door to Japanese culture for the pair.

‘‘They really enjoy that cultural aspect.’’

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