Insurance company Allianz has teamed up with Olympic silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan to launch their new "Stop the Drop" research, which highlights a critical decline in sports participation as children start secondary school. 

Based on Sport Ireland’s latest research on children’s sports participation in 2022, the Stop the Drop report highlights how one in five children are dropping sports between primary school and secondary school. 

Allianz described the decline as "troubling" as it narrows the future pool of athletes at novice, amateur, and professional levels for the coming decades. 

Allianz, which is one of the biggest insurers of sports in Ireland, said it is "dedicated" to addressing the problem and initiated a comprehensive research project to identify the main obstacles and prospects related to sports participation in Ireland. 

This research, carried out by Ipsos B&A, featured interviews with a diverse group, representing various life stages and levels of engagement in sports, including individuals who are heavily involved in sports, either for themselves or their children; sports veterans and coaches. 

It also included interviews with experienced sports professionals and coaches; enthusiastic sports fans who regularly attend live sports events but are no longer active participants themselves; and people who are involved in sports but face additional challenges due to factors such as sexuality, race/ethnicity, or physical differences.

Recognizing the vital role that teachers, parents, and coaches play in participation levels in children's sport, Allianz has launched the #StopTheDrop resource hub.

Allianz Ireland launch their new 'Stop The Drop' campaign with Olympic Silver Medallist Sonia O'Sullivan.

The “Stop The Drop” campaign report sheds critical light on the decline in sports participation among Irish children, particularly during the pivotal transition from…

— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) June 19, 2024

The hub aims to support teachers, parents, and coaches with practical support by providing the knowledge and skills needed to support future generations of athletes. 

It will also help these groups support young people in navigating the hidden barriers that can often result in them dropping out of sport. 

Phillip Gronemeyer, CEO of Allianz, said the company wanted to play a role in reversing the fall in participation in youth sports in Ireland. 

"At Allianz, we have had a long-standing commitment to Ireland and have always strived to live our purpose of securing our customers’ futures," Gronemeyer said in a statement.

"Despite sport being a key part of our national identity, 1 in 5 children stop participating in sport when transitioning from primary to secondary school. As the largest insurer of schools in Ireland, insuring over 500,000 children, we want to play a part in stopping this drop in participation in sport." 

Sonia O'Sullivan, who won a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, spoke of the importance that sport has on young people's lives. 

"As a sportsperson myself but most importantly as a parent, I know first-hand the positive impact sport has on young people and the importance of that," O'Sullivan said. "Keeping children engaged with sport, at whatever level works for them, can aid them in developing so many important life skills, enabling them to go on to great things into their teenage and adult lives.

"The Allianz Stop The Drop campaign aims to highlight the issue around childhood sports participation in Ireland today, one we cannot ignore for the sake of our children’s futures."