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Football now most popular AND cheapest sport for teens

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Football is no longer just the most popular sport for young people; it’s the cheapest too. Research has found the average parent will have to spend almost £1000 less on club subscriptions, new kit and equipment and transport to keep a child’s footballing dreams alive.

A football enthusiast will set a parent back £2841 between the ages of 11-18, but the average parent of a sporting youngster will fork out £3832.22 over the same period.

The study by pub restaurant chain Chef & Brewer polled 2,000 parents of children who take part in organised sport at least three times a week.

Elaine Petch, mother of Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith, travelled 250 miles each week with Louis when he was a budding star.

Elaine, who is supporting Chef & Brewer’s Champion of Champions campaign to reward those who dedicate their lives to support future sporting talent, said:

”Most parents fully get behind their children when it comes to sport – for a variety of reasons.

”The obvious reason is that it keeps children fit and healthy, but secondly children who take part in team sports tend to have a wider circle of friends.

”I made the effort to take Louis to a gym 26 miles from home and was paying up to £100 each week on petrol because I knew it would give him a better chance of success.

”But as a parent you just get on and do it for your children.

”The cost isn’t the only aspect to consider, many of these parents will work full time and after a days work will have to pick kids up and drop them off at sports clubs. If you are doing this several times a week it will take its toll.”

The cost can rocket even higher depending on what sport the child excels at:

  • The figures show horse riding will set parents back a staggering £7,637 on average;
  • Go-karting enthusiasts eager to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton will cost parents £811 a year (which totals nearly £6,000 between the ages of 11-18);
  • Competitive swimming was the second most common sport for 11-18 year olds to partake in with kit, membership fees and extra tuition costing mum and dad £586 a year or £4,106 until they turn 18.

The research also revealed six out of ten parents said they would hate to stand in the way of their child and their chance to excel at sport regardless of how much it cost; a quarter of Mums and Dads said they would never refuse to take their kids to an activity that they wanted to attend.

A more cautious 27% said it was impossible for their offspring to attend every club meeting and competition due to money and logistics.

Taking their kids to clubs, competitions and training will set the typical parent back £50 a week with one in ten parents regularly driving more than 75 miles to regional and county matches.

A spokeswoman for Chef & Brewer said:

”Parents are investing lots of their spare time and their income on their children’s chosen sports.

”These findings were based on one child and the sport that they have chosen to pursue, and don’t include any school sports of PE kits.

”We have to spare a thought for the parents of children who take part in more than one organised sport and for those that have two, three or four sporty children.

”Sport clearly dominates time in the week for a lot of families but it’s still important to make time for family occasions. We often went for a hearty meal together after training and we still make time for a family pub lunch most Sundays when we can.”

Researchers found that the typical sporting child takes part in nearly seven hours of sport a week and parents will spend £197 on membership fees alone for their kids.

It’s mums who bear the brunt of the picking up and dropping off; waiting around for kids to compete in their chosen sports means parents hang around for nearly four hours a week.

Not surprisingly 41% of the 2,000 parents polled said they sometimes feel like their whole life is dedicated to their kid’s hobbies; despite that, three quarters of parents said they would rather their child played sport than being cooped up indoors watching TV.


1.            Football

2.            Swimming

3.            Martial arts

4.            Rugby

5.            Ballet / dance

6.            Tennis

7.            Athletics

8.            Gymnastics

9.            Netball

10.          Cricket


1.            Horse riding                                        £7637

2.            Go-karting                                          £5677

3.            Ballet / dancing                                £4916

4.            Golf                                                       £4437

5.            Swimming                                           £4106

6.            Martial Arts                                        £4106

7.            Cricket                                                  £3975

8.            Netball                                                 £3968

9.            Rugby                                                   £3245

10.          Football                                               £2841


The obvious reason is that it keeps children fit and healthy, but secondly children who take part in team sports tend to have a wider circle of friends.

Elaine Petch, mother of Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith

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