Almost 40,000 people participated in football in the Peel region as the district recorded huge growth throughout 2016.
Western Australia as a whole tallied record numbers with a total participation of 302,662 people across the state, second only to Victoria.
The Peel region accounted for more than 13 per cent of WA’s total, with 39,999 people lacing up the boots or picking up a whistle to record a whopping 83.16 per cent growth rate over the year.
Peel Football and Netball League general manager Geoff Hiller labelled the growth rate outstanding.
“All of our clubs had numbers, which is terrific to see – the growth rate is exceptional and definitely encouraging,” he said.
“I think football in general is ready to reach some new heights and is likely to continue to grow at extraordinary rates.”
Hiller said Peel was one of the fastest growing areas in the state, which will allow the region to reap the benefits in the coming years.
“Overall, we are doing extremely well with participation,” he said.
“Having numbers coming through the junior systems sets us up for years down the track. You probably won’t see the full extent of the growth for 10 years.”
Standout figures for the Peel region include a 14 per cent increase in junior football (years four to seven), while female football more than doubled in strength with a 112 per cent increase.
A total 3450 juniors took to the field, while 10,189 female footballers represented 17 teams in the region.
Senior football in Peel recorded a 10.7 per cent rise, with 1135 participants.
But the problem with rising player numbers lies in a shortage of umpires.
While the number of whistle-blowers in the Peel region rose in 2016, leagues are still on the lookout for more officials to cope with the rapid increase of footballers.
“Umpires are a vital part of our game and we need more if we’re going to cover the amount of players we have now,” Hiller said.
“It’s brilliant to see so many people keen play but we need the officials to run it.
“It would be good to see former players picking up the whistle more often.”
A total 125 district umpires refereed games in Peel this season, just a mere three more than the required 122.
To join the umpiring ranks, call Peel Football Umpire Association president Jerry Gibb on 0408 247 276 or visit pfua.com.au