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Kicking Matilda: women’s soccer in Australia

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2010–March 2011 (n=10,349) and April 2014–March 2015 (n=9,201). Base: Australian women 14+

With the Matildas making history at the Women’s World Cup, Roy Morgan Research looks into the current state of women’s football (soccer) participation in Australia and finds that it is ripe for the kind of boost that the Matildas’ international success will (with any luck) provide…

Between April 2010 and March 2015, the number of Aussie women playing football either regularly or occasionally grew only slightly from 373,000 to 378,000. The number of teenage girls aged 14-17 who play the sport rose from 131,000 to 141,000, boosted primarily by an increase in those who play regularly (78,000, up from 45,000).

Participation among young women aged 18-24 remained static at 97,000, but lost ground among the 25-34 age bracket, with only 73,000 taking part in the year to March 2015 (down from 94,000 five years earlier).

Women’s football (soccer) participation in Australia: 2011 vs 2015


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2010–March 2011 (n=10,349) and April 2014–March 2015 (n=9,201).

Football/soccer appears to be catching on among women aged 35-49, with participation numbers rising from 43,000 to 56,000 (a 30% increase); there was also a small increase in the number of more mature (50+) female participants (9,000 to 11,000).

Furthermore, women aged 50+ are the only group which is as likely to watch football/soccer on TV now as they were five years ago (14% of them tune in for the sport, as they did in 2010). Viewing has declined across the younger age groups: from 20% to 16% of 14-17 year-olds; from 17% to 15% of 18-24 year-olds; from 19% to 18% of 25-34 year-olds; and from 19% to 17% of 35-49 year-olds.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The Matildas’ remarkable progress through to the quarter finals of the Women’s World Cup has attracted widespread media attention and inspired much patriotic pride. Australia’s reputation as a footballing nation lags behind our global prominence in other sports, making our women’s team’s victory over Brazil on Sunday all the more historic.

“While the last five years have seen a marked increase in the number of Australian men playing the beautiful game, the same cannot be said of women. Overall participation has grown by just the slightest of margins, driven mainly by women aged 35-49 and 14-17. In contrast, the number of men playing the sport has increased across all age groups except the under-18s.

As we reported recently, soccer is the second-most popular sport among Australian kids aged 6-13, with nearly 40% of girls this age taking part. Sports participation inevitably drops off among Aussies aged 14+, so it remains to be seen whether the Matildas’ success will inspire the current crop of footballing girls to stick at it during their teens. 

"It will also be interesting to see how the participation rate looks for Aussie women a year from now, and whether the Matildas’ historic World Cup performance has resulted in more women taking up (and viewing) football."

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%