Positive signs: Blacktown District Soccer Football Association chief executive Jack Taylor, at headquarters at Blacktown Football Park, Rooty Hill, is happy about the rise in participation in the association. Picture: Isabella Lettini
Blacktown District Soccer Football Association enjoyed a good year in 2015, seeing a 10 per cent increase in player participation.
Figures for Blacktown reflect a surge in numbers across all Football NSW competitions.
Football NSW had 324,601 participants, 8 per cent above 2014.
With 10,200 players spread across 22 clubs, Blacktown was one of four associations, with Canterbury, Macarthur and Eastern Suburbs, to record a 10 per cent increase in numbers.
It is welcome news for the Blacktown association's' chief executive Jack Taylor, who said it was the best annual growth they have experienced.
Taylor said he believed the popularity of the A-League, as well as the performances of the Socceroos at the Asian Cup and the Matildas at the World Cup. have led to more people wanting to be involved in the game.
Another important factor was the formation of an under-20s men's competition, which was held for the first time this year.
"We'd always had a difficulty in retaining boys in their late teenage years," Taylor said.
"In the past, we'd have had between 120 and 180 in that age bracket, but with the formation of an under-20s division, we had 500 players across the comp."
Blacktown falls behind the state average for female participation, with males taking up 83 per cent of all players.
"We have tried so hard to increase female numbers, but it hasn't worked," Taylor said.
"But we're going to try the under-20s from next year, like we did
with the men, and see if we can keep them around."
Taylor the addition of a new club at Ropes Crossing was a good sign.
By Patrick Fahy (Blacktown Sun)