Pickleball is experiencing a surge in popularity among CEOs and their families in India, with exclusive clubs such as the Bay Club at Jio World in Mumbai and Vasant Vihar Club in Delhi introducing dedicated pickleball courts.
Sports Ministry Endorsement
The sport has also received the endorsement of India’s sports minister, Anurag Thakur, with him announcing he is firmly committed to promoting it.
Among keen Indian followers of the sport are several chief executives and their heirs. Notable figures such as Harsh and Anant Goenka, Karan Singh of ACG Group, Nitin Singh of Barclays, Srikanth Subramanian of Kotak Cherry, Amarjit Singh Batra of Spotify India, Nath Parameshwaran of PayPal India, Yuvi Ruia (grandson of Shashi Ruia), Nitin Shakdher of Green Capital, Reji Mathew of Fitizen, and Rajnish Girdhar of Karma Capital, among others, are part of this growing community.
Indeed, Subramanian has singled out pickleball’s age- and gender-neutral properties.
Two New Dedicated Courts
According to economictimes.indiatimes.com, these enthusiasts often compete at prestigious clubs like the Bay Club and the Vasant Vihar Club in Delhi. They also enjoy the sport on their private backyard courts or new courts installed within gated communities and residential real estate projects.
Notably, the Gujarat government recently constructed two dedicated pickleball courts on the banks of the Sabarmati River. The Willingdon in South Mumbai and other establishments like Solaris, a chain of sports clubs in Pune, are in the process of setting up four courts by the end of the current month.
Harsh Goenka, chairman of the RPG Group, started playing pickleball with his children in Alibaug during the Covid pandemic. This activity, which he enjoys with his son at their clubs or backyard court, is more convenient to learn and adapt to than tennis.
Yuvi Ruia, grandson of Shashi Ruia, returned to India from the US to introduce this sport, convinced by its growth potential.
Union sports minister Anurag Thakur’s involvement provided pickleball with a recent boost. His interest in popularizing the sport was evident when he played it at the inauguration of the government’s “Saansad Khel Spardha” at the indoor sports stadium in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, in April.
Srikanth Subramanian, CEO of Kotak Cherry, attests that pickleball’s success lies in its inclusivity regardless of gender or age. He says that with its simpler entry-level skills compared to other sports like tennis, it serves as an excellent recreation and bonding activity for families.
Reji Mathew, founder of fitness startup Fitizen, highlights the sport’s mental agility and lower injury rates due to its low-impact and low-aggression nature.
Clubs like the Vasant Vihar have seen a substantial increase in weekly players, reflecting the sport’s burgeoning popularity. While many players enjoy dedicated pickleball courts, others repurpose tennis and badminton courts. The All India Pickleball Association aims to achieve at least 1 million pickleball players in India within the next five years.
Plans are underway to accelerate the sport’s growth with a “glam slam” event in Goa alongside a film festival. Similar to Florida’s prominence in pickleball, the goal is to establish Goa as the Indian hub for the sport. The Ruias are also introducing their own venture, PickleNChill, in South Mumbai.
Pickleball is present in 17 states across India, with plans to make it popular in the other five by the end of the year.
We also posted this article about how the APP recently announced a partnership With India’s 2023 Monsoon Pickleball Championship.
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