Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity study (CSPPA) is a unique
multi-centre/discipline study undertaken by three Irish institutions, Dublin City
University, University of Limerick and University College Cork. The study
sought to assess participation in physical
activity, physical education and sport (PAPES) among 10-18 year olds in Ireland. This
paper shares what Irish children and young people convey, using their own
voices, about their sport and physical activity experiences and how such
experiences may result in their feeling included or excluded in PAPES.
focus groups (FG) with 124 boys and girls elicited descriptive data from
students and were conducted with homogeneous groups of 6 to 8 boys and girls
aged 12-18 years (selected for convenience) identified as male/female,
primary/post-primary, and generally active/inactive.
Five themes (‘being with friends’,
‘variety in activity content’, ‘experiencing fun’, ‘time constraints’, and
‘opportunity to be outside’) ran across the three PAPES opportunities for young
people. Overall data revealed these young people have a positive attitude
toward physical activity (PA) which does not diminish as they age despite
activity levels decreasing. Other choices of activity participation (e.g.,
debate, music), or more focused activities took the place of previous choices
as young people came to realise what they most enjoyed.
If we are to encourage and provide
opportunities for young people to choose active lifestyles, it is important
that we address what these young people report affects their involvement in
physical activity across a number of contexts. Two such developments within
Irish school and community contexts are discussed: Active School Flag
initiative and Senior Cycle Physical Education framework.