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Maltese youths shun sports clubs, second lowest in EU, study shows

Just 11% said they took part in such activities

Maltese youths, together with those from another four EU countries, were the second least likely to participate in activities held by sports clubs, according to a Eurobarometer study.

The study found that only 11 per cent of Maltese people aged between 15 and 30 said they took part in such activities in the 12-month period to last September. The average across the 28 member states was 29 per cent.

Hungary topped the list of the least active, with only 10 per cent of its youths saying they participated in sports club activities.

In the same range as Malta were Cyprus, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

The Eurobarometer survey, which entailed interviews with about 11,000 youngsters, also gauged the prevalent views on what should be the priorities for the EU.

Ironically, half of the Maltese respondents said Brussels should focus on encouraging youth to engage in sports. Compared to a similar exercise held in December 2014, Maltese respondents saying they did take part in sports club events fell by 17 percentage points.

Youth Football Association president Fr Hilary Tagliaferro said the low rating did not surprise him because his organisation was seeing fewer children join football clubs than ever before.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the number of children joining dwindle- Fr Hilary

“Over the last decade, we’ve seen the number of children joining dwindle,” he said, adding that the fact that children had a wider array of sports activities to choose from could be among the contributing factors.

Fr Tagliaferro believes, however, that the main cause of the decline in youth participation in sport was the rampant use of computers and smartphones. “People are more open to the idea of playing video games or staying on the computer than doing physical exercise,” he said.

He proposed a national education campaign that would encourage parents to limit children’s time online.

Schools had to encourage physical activity every day, he insisted, adding it was unacceptable that children only practised sports at school once or twice weekly.

The Eurobarometer survey also looked at youth’s participation in cultural, political and environmental organisations. It found that only seven per cent of Maltese respondents participated in any kind of youth organisation activity in the period under review.

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