Since its inception in 1965 at Bainbridge Island by three American gentlemen, Pickleball has travelled far and wide. The sport is now played in several countries across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Pickleball is a highly social sport that can be played by person of all ages, even by those having no active sporting background. If you have a Pickleball paddle and some balls then you can start it on any hard surface; may be at your backyard or in a playground, at a local club or in a stadium. Thus, there is a minimal infrastructural requirement for playing this sport.
However, as players increased across countries and continents, more tournaments and leagues are initiated. Players have come up with amazing skills, matches have become exciting and ‘competition’ has found its way in this very ‘social’ sport.
There are some efficient world bodies and regional organizations that are perpetuating the development and growth of Pickleball throughout the world. These governing bodies provide strong technical and technological support to the players and the organized tournaments.
Pickleball Global stepped into the world Pickleball scenario some 8 years ago to provide a technological base to the development of the sport. The organization has introduced ranking system for Pickleball players, provides software support to tournaments and organizes tournaments and leagues. Pickleball Global’s newest venture is its association with Asia Federation of Pickleball (AFP) where Mr. Jan Papi, the founder of Pickleball Global, has been appointed as the AFP Technology Director. Here are some excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Jan Papi with Poulomi Kundu, Member of our Marketing Department.
Development of a concept – the missing links
Jan Papi: For the last 15 years we have a Tennis store. It was 8 years ago that we shifted to this new location at Bonita Springs. We were approached by a community at that time to carry Pickleball paddles in our store. I had no clue initially about what they were talking about. But eventually I found out that it was a growing sport. So we started keeping Pickleball paddles and balls in our store. My interest grew; I looked around, further communicated with those people and found out that might be there was something missing. It was because there was a community but there was no Technology platform to bring people together. So it all started from there. I wanted to create that Technology platform where Pickleball players could come, connect and communicate.
Pickleball Global - technology platform that connects
JanPapi: It is a portal where Pickleball players can meet, they can connect; not only can they connect but running the tournaments, running the league and all other things basically leading into the rankings.
From America to Europe and now in Asia – It is Global now!
Jan Papi: We started our ranking system in America. Initially there were opposition to this system as the Pickleball players did not want to be compared to anybody. But gradually they accepted the formula. Next we started organizing tournaments in America but gradually moved on to European countries like Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. We also ran few tournaments in Australia long with Pickleball Association of Australia. We have other tournaments lined up; we are waiting for the pandemic to end in order to start organizing and playing tournaments.
Now I have been offered by Asia Federation of Pickleball (AFP) to become a part of the organization. I am immensely excited for being a part of this organization because I really feel that the model of this project is to be followed. This organization has started operating from the bottom. There are clear distinctive departments to operate in different fields. Pickleball Global will look after the technological part.
Association with AFP – the start of the interesting journey
Jan Papi: We would like to help AFP to run the tournament meaningfully and bring everything into the ranking. Pickleball is growing in Asia, there will be more players, there will be more tournaments and that requires some structure. The structure needs to be in place before you start playing continent-based tournaments. That is where, I humbly want to say, we want to be beneficial- the tournaments will be played, the rankings will be produced and based on that we will see the best players in Asia. So the structure which is not so much present anywhere in the world will be seen in Asia right away.
AFP and Pickleball Global – the relationship that benefits Pickleball fraternity
Jan Papi: Our association with AFP is an opportunity for us. When we go for a hiking or a biking, we see the mountains. There’s one point of view from there, but if we go around a mountain then there’s another point of view. It is so similar with our lives. As we go through the lives, we find new opportunities. Now we will try to add new features to the platform that will be beneficial to both AFP and Pickleball Global for our players. We are open to so many new ideas from AFP because collective effort always brings out the best of us.