Childhood drop out in football and the effects on participation as a young adult
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Abstract 'Childhood drop out' is an issue sports providers endeavour to address as they attempt to meet the Government’s targets for participation (DCMS, 2002). Previous research (Carroll and Loumidis, 2001; Malina, 2001; Daley, 2002 and Green et al., 2005) has focused on reasons why children stop participating, but this study aimed to build on this to identify the affect childhood drop out in sport has on participation as a young adult. A qualitative approach was adopted through seven semi-structured interviews, with all participants dropping out of football during childhood after participating for a minimum of two years. The key findings show childhood drop out does affect participation as a young adult as only two of the participants were playing regularly again. A lack of participation was attributed to a lack of fitness, football not fitting into their routine and the difference between youth and adult football being too great in terms of physicality, pressure and competitive environment. To assist re-entry into the sport it was concluded football providers must create more under 18’s leagues to ease the transition from youth football into adult football. Furthermore small-sided football needs to be made more accessible as the participants still played this version occasionally even if they were not regular eleven-a-side competitors. Due to the significant drop out rates after compulsory schooling (Allender et al., 2006) further research should investigate the options available to football players at this time as this study has found the transition into adult football is challenging and it is unlikely that a player will return once they have dropped out.
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