Cricket dives, dance thrives
CHILDREN are turning their backs on cricket, and donning dance shoes instead.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the trend away from cricket has left the game floundering, while other sports continue to rise in popularity among children. Since 2003, junior participation in cricket across Australia has declined by 2.2 per cent. The figure does not seem dramatic, until you compare it to the skyrocketing participation rates in other sports.
In contrast to cricket’s dismal showing, dancing has recorded a dramatic increase in participation rates in the past nine years, making a 27 per cent leap. Participation by boys shot up by a staggering 128.4 per cent.
Neither ABS figures pertaining to cricket or dancing are specific to the local region, but anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that South Gippsland is far from immune to the trends.
Lisa Pellin, of Lisa Pellin Dance Studio, already has outlets in Leongatha and Foster and is about to open another, due to popular demand, in Mirboo North.
Last year there were 11 boys on the books, but the number has gone as high as 18.
She said part of the rise was due to a diminishing stigma associated with boys dancing.
“It’s because of shows like Billy Elliot and people like Hugh Jackman, who studied musical theatre before going on to film. I think the more kids see of these shows and these people, the more comfortable they are with taking up dance. It’s cool now. Video clips are saturated with it,” she said.
“It’s cool if you can dance. Even if you bust a move at school, it’s seen as cool.”
Eleven-year-old Jaive Muranty has been dancing for five years because he “just wanted to be different to everybody else”.
Ms Pellin’s own son, Xavier, 15, is ready to take his place at the Australian Ballet School on January 24.
While acknowledging that other sports were growing at the expense of cricket, long time local player and coach Gary Sauvarin believes the drop off is part of a cultural shift.
“It’s disappointing. Kids aren’t as sporty and they find indoor activities a bit more appealing – the Xbox or whatever else. It’s an outlet for them,” he said.
“It’s not the death of cricket. But it does make it harder to get junior cricket teams on to the park. The Under 16s is when they drop off. I don’t know whether it’s part-time work or other things. There’s a lot of little things that happen at that age.
“There are more sporting options too for kids these days. Golf, little aths, tennis and swimming are all sports that have the potential to drag kids away from cricket.”
But Mr Sauvarin said the rewards for staying the distance with cricket were great, with a guaranteed network of lifelong friends.
“It’s a sport that really builds mateship from an early age,” he said.
Further ABS figures support Mr Sauvarin’s belief that indoor activities have usurped sport for some youngsters, although the trend may not be as dire as some believe.
ABS assistant director of the National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics Paul Pamment ,said a survey on participation in sport, cultural activities and use of technology for children aged between five and 14 found that “60 per cent of Australian kids participated in organised sport in the 12 months to April 2012”.
On the flip side, the survey also found that more kids are spending time on the internet, computers and games consoles than three years ago.
On average, children spent 15 hours watching TV outside of school hours in the last two school weeks prior to the survey period.
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