Football's place as the number one club-based participation sport in Australia has been confirmed, with the release of the latest AusPlay survey by Sport Australia.
In the year to June 2019, 1,853,600 people played football in Australia comprising 1,084,200 adults and 769,400 children.
There was an impressive 18.2 per cent growth in the number of children aged 14 years or under playing the game and Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive David Gallop AM said he wasn't surprised by the results of the survey.
"The data from Sport Australia backs up the findings from our own National Participation Report and demonstrates the popularity of our sport for people of all ages from the under 5s to the over 75s," he said.
"Football is a game for everyone, no matter what your background or ability.
"FFA and the State and Territory Member Federations have worked extremely hard to drive participation growth by broadening the football offering way beyond the traditional outdoor 11-a-side winter season.
Our own National Participation Report and demonstrates the popularity of our sport for people of all ages from the under 5s to the over 75s.David Gallop
"Across the country, there are now programs of Walking Football for the over 50s, Multicultural programs for new arrivals and CALD communities, female-only programs including Soccer Mums and the increasingly popular small-sided summer football."
Gallop added: "These impressive participation numbers are being complemented by a clear career pathway for boys and girls at youth level, through to the senior national teams.
"This is backed up by the landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement announced yesterday, that closes the gender pay gap between the Caltex Socceroos and the Westfield Matildas, providing further inspiration to those looking to play football and emulate their heroes - as the numbers show, there has never been a better time to play football."
Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) CEO David Eland congratulated the thousands of volunteers at the grassroots throughout Northern NSW for providing opportunities for people of all ages in their respective communities to enjoy football.
"More people played football in 2019 in Northern NSW than in any other season," Eland said.
"The number of players participating in traditional club-based competitions has increased by 14 per cent since 2015.
"At the same time the number of registered female players has soared by a staggering 23 per cent during the same period.
"NNSWF's new strategic plan identifies Inclusion and Diversity and Women and Girls as priorities.
"It's therefore vital that all levels of government support our efforts to increase the number of people pursuing healthy and active lifestyles by investing more in football facilities which are safe, welcoming and fit for purpose."