Conversation with the AFP Chairman, Mr. Hogan Lai

First of all, congratulations on your appointment to the Chairmanship of AFP in the 2nd AGM held on 20th February 2021.



During the course of the conversation, Hogan said that it is indeed an honour to be appointed Chairman of AFP (Asia Federation of Pickleball). As Chairman of the board, Hogan said that he is not the boss. This is not a "one-man crusade". The Chairman does not make decisions unilaterally and does not direct members to do certain tasks, but instead guides and leads the conversations through the agenda. Hogan aims to ensure that there is no “sunflower effect” where he dominates, has the first word and maybe the last, causing everyone else to shrink into silence under the canopy of the biggest flower at the table.


The new Chairman is excited to lead a relatively young and fast-growing sport in Asia. In the past 5 years or so, pickleball has taken off with rapid speed in Asia, especially among younger players. This may be due to pickleball's fun, social, and active qualities. This sport has unique features that it can be played indoors, outdoors, car parks, tennis courts, warehouses, as well as badminton, and basketball courts.


Hogan feels that he is blessed and humbled to have a team of experienced team working with him on a voluntary basis for the betterment of the sport in Asia. This passionate team is needed to acknowledge that the new Chairman may bring changes with him, and perhaps that is the way to move forward. AFP needs to innovate, or it will deteriorate. The Chairman believes, as head of a sporting body, he must "walk the grounds ", be a good listener, and receptive of all feedback from members of the pickleball community.


Hogan's involvement with Taipei tennis in the past 40 years, as well as being a former President of the Taipei Pickleball Association, makes him uniquely positioned to connect Taiwan's pickleball with the sport Asia wide. It is mutually beneficial. Asia pickleball needs Taiwan, and Taiwan also needs the rest of the pickleball community in Asia in order to grow the sport. It is about mutual assistance and mutual promotion. Taiwan has a large contingent of strong players in Asia, due to their program of starting with the school kids who were involved with the sport at a young age. They are trained by a team of committed and qualified coaches, who impart the correct philosophy and sportsmanship to their students.


ASIA PICKLEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP (APC)


When asked about Asia Pickleball Championship (APC) in 2020, Hogan said that the Game was held in a much smaller scale than planned due to Covid-19. Unfortunately, most of the players from other countries could not attend. This year, AFP will plan for APC in primary and backup Asian country to prevent single country locked down. All members’ countries are very excited, and we will expect a positive turn out. This will of course depend on the covid-19 green lane arrangement between hosting and all Asian and International countries.


If pickleball is included in the Asian Games in the future, going forward we will likely need to treat it as a business. That is to put a paddle and ball in the hands of as many players as possible, both young and old.


Today, AFP has 11 member countries throughout Asia. Taiwan is one of the foundation members. AFP is only a young organisation in the scheme of things. Any one of the member country is just as important as the other. We are in this together, players and officials. One becomes obsolete without the other. Like life, there will always be challenges and issues. Things will work out as long as we put aside minor differences to seek common ground and make the most of the advantages of all member countries, officials, and players.


AFP, by using Pickleball Global software, has started on a common platform where players' tournament information is readily available. More importantly, applying the same rule and criteria in measuring standards and ranking of each player in Asia and the rest of the pickleball world is imperative.


Players are always the priority. As a level 3.0 player himself, Hogan said that we need to consider how to utilize the platform to produce more level 4.0 and level 5.0 players, identifying up and coming potential stars, recruit excellent officials, and having more exciting matches. This is an opportunity to elevate this sport to the peak.


Game On.


Author

JOHN NG- AFP Marketing


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