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World Footy Census 2004
by Brett Northey
In all the discussions about the growth of Australian Rules football around the world there are often conflicting reports of how many players and teams there really are. Part of this discrepancy may come from different measures of what should be counted, partly it will be mistakes, and of course no one can really know the numbers unless they systematically research them. In late 2004 through to early 2005, World Footy News collected data from the Australian Rules football leagues around the world to eliminate the urban myths and determine the real numbers. This can then be used as a baseline from which to judge future growth.
The basic criteria set to count a player was that they have played four games in the year. Often clubs have players on their books who pass through and will never be seen again, so this was an attempt to keep the data consistent between countries. The same statistic was used for junior involvement. Auskick-style clinics, not featuring games, was thus excluded. It is conceded that this does risk omitting great work done is such clinics, but it was felt that say 1000 kids at an Auskick clinic does not equal 1000 kids actively playing games each week, so some uniform measure had to be employed. Similarly clubs were required to have played at least four games in the year. However, all such numbers will be subject to varying degrees of accuracy depending on the quality of data, be it measured from registrations or estimated from people at the clubs. Overall, we believe the data to be very representative of the numbers out there.
The results appeared as a series of stories by regions, culminating in a summary for the whole world, including Australia, with the results tabularised. Below are the links to all those stories. Will World Footy News undertake such a survey again? It took a great deal of work and persistent reminders to clubs and leagues over months. From both our point of view and that of the hard working footy volunteers around the planet, a second census is probably some time away. Perhaps 2007? Only time will tell. In the meantime, a big thankyou to everyone who helped.
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