Children and young people are less likely to return to organised community activity post-lockdown than adults, according to new research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
The findings show that junior memberships fell by 67% during lockdown, with a projected return at almost 30% less than pre-pandemic levels.
These impacts were felt more keenly in more deprived and ethnically diverse communities where participation opportunities are more heavily dependent on organised delivery.
Lisa Wainwright, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO, said: “Getting children and young people out onto a pitch, into the water and moving in our leisure centres teaches them so many important life skills they can use now and in the future.
“These findings suggest that our younger generation are not expected to return as quickly or as strongly as adults which is likely to have significant ramifications on their physical, social and emotional development.
“It is therefore vital that children’s health and wellbeing is placed at the heart of our recovery efforts and every child is given every opportunity to be active again."
Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said: “These findings from the Sport and Recreation Alliance provide invaluable insight into the changes in young people’s habits and family lifestyles when it comes to organised community sport and recreation.
“We feared the impact of time away from friends, teams and regular activity on young people’s physical and mental health, but we are now seeing the barriers to returning to clubs as a lockdown legacy.
“The priority has to be a redoubling of efforts to build an ‘active recovery’ for all children, making it easy and fun for children and young people to get into sport.