This study utilized a mixed method approach to examine youth retention in Australian Football. It aimed to investigate the factors contributing to initial and sustained engagement with Australian Football as well as the reasons why children disengage with the sport. Questionnaires along with qualitative interviews were conducted in junior football clubs across South Australia. Two themes emerged from the data: ‘sustained engagement with Australian Football’ and ‘Alienation and Disengagement’. Findings suggest that there are two critical age ranges where disengagement with Australian Football occurs; both correspond with changes in level of competition. This research raised two critical questions: Is Australia witnessing a shift away from Australian Football in terms of junior participation rates? and will this have an impact on the way in which the sport is perceived as being an integral part of its national identity? The increase in popularity of other sporting codes is a significant barrier in the retention of participants in Australian Football. Therefore, there is a need for junior Australian Football clubs to comply with the game day structures that achieve the expectations of children and youth in order to improve retention in the sport. This research adds to the body of literature on junior sport retention and will enable strategies to be developed in order to retain participants in Australian Football.
- Australian Football