As teenage girls get older, they become 78% more likely to stop participating in any sport.

Research by UK market intelligence specialist, Kids Insights, shows vast disparity between boys and girls when it comes to watching and playing sport.

Girls become increasingly disengaged as they progress through their teens at a far higher rate than boys.

As Manchester United women’s team prepare to play their inaugural match against Liverpool this Sunday, is it time we paid more attention to female sport?

Kids Insights surveys 20,000 young people each year, with data available in a report released every 12 weeks.

When asked about their favourite football team, the most common answer amongst girls aged between four and 18 is Manchester United. However, until recently, they’ve not had the opportunity to watch a women’s team play in the iconic red kit. This is set to change, as the club announced the news that they’d be forming a women’s squad back in March. The team will play their inaugural match against Liverpool on the 19th August.

The 5,000 children surveyed by Kids Insights in April, May and June 2018 has identified a huge disparity between girls and boys when it comes to sport. The data shows football to be the sport most participated-in for boys, with 53% of all boys taking part, compared to just 15% of girls.

In addition to this, 21% of girls say they don’t currently play any sport at all, compared to 14% of boys. The level of complete non-participation in any sport only increases amongst girls as they leave secondary school, rising from 19% amongst 13 to 15-year-olds to 34% of 16 to 18-year-olds. That’s an increase of 78%.

In comparison, non-participation in sport amongst boys only increases from 13% to 19% – and increase of 46%. When it comes to attending extra-curricular sports clubs, boys are again more likely to attend clubs than girls at all age groups.

It’s not just participation in sport where we see a vast gender divide – more than twice as many boys say they watch football than girls, at 57% and 27% respectively. In addition, 52% of girls say they watch no sport at all, compared to 29% of boys.

Nick Richardson, CEO of Kids Insights, says Manchester United women’s team’s first match could be representative of a shift in the way women’s sport is represented. He says: “Our data shows that when asked about their favourite football team, the top answer amongst girls is Manchester United. However, until now, they have not had the opportunity to see a women’s team play in the iconic Manchester kit. With an increase in prominent female sporting role models emerging into mainstream media, we could be seeing a shift in the way women’s sport is represented. If work can be done to attract the 21% of girls who don’t watch any sport at all, it could prove to be a previously untapped market. There are many opportunities on the horizon for brands to get involved with women’s sport, inspiring the next generation of girls in the process.”

You can download a free, sample version of Kids Insights’ Q1 report here: www.kidsinsights.co.uk/Q12018.