Whittlesea has one of the lowest rates of participation in sports in Victoria, new research reveals.

Only 11 per cent of residents take part in organised sport, compared to 12.5 per cent in neighbouring Hume, research by Victoria University, VicHealth, Sport and Recreation Victoria, and Federation University has found.

Greater Dandenong had the state’s lowest participation rate, at just 6.6 per cent.

But in parts of regional Victoria, sports participation rates are as high as 39 per cent.

The research examined almost 900,000 registrations in football, basketball, bowls, cricket, golf, gymnastics, hockey, netball, soccer, sailing and tennis. It found that participation rates were lowest among women and girls living in urban growth areas.

In growth suburbs, just 32 per cent of girls aged five to nine years old took part in organised sport, compared to 52 per cent in other suburbs, and 65 per cent in regional areas.

Participation rates for women in growth areas dropped to about two per cent, compared to five per cent in regional areas.

Victoria University’s Rochelle Eime said poor planning and a lack of facilities in urban growth areas contributed to low participation.

“It’s important that planners consider sport and recreation needs of these growth areas before developers start dividing up house and land packages,” Associate Professor Eime said.

In Whittlesea township, girls seem to be bucking the trend, with Whittlesea Football Club noticing an increase in girls wanting to play football, Female football co-ordinator Holly Teagle said the club had no problem attracting girls to the club.

“We have about 50 girls training every week,” she said.

Sports Minister John Eren said the research would help the government to target sports funding to areas of greatest need.