Where is Padel Popular?
The Rise in Popularity of Padel in Sweden
Narrator: It’s lunchtime in Sweden and the courts in Malmo and Helsingborg are fully booked. Most sports have struggled during the pandemic but Padel has bucked the trend, with Sweden’s relatively few restrictions meaning that 2020 was its best year yet.
Marcus Eriander: This place opened up between 2014 and 2015, so then it was really easy to get times and it was completely empty. In the last two years it’s been absolutely booming. Padel is a sport on everyone’s lips and it’s insane.
Narrator: 450 new courts were built around the country last year and bookings hit the one million mark, five times higher than in 2018. Footballers including Zlatan Ibrahimovic have invested in Padel and recorded instant profits. Former tennis world number four Jonas Björkman is involved in PDL group, now the sport’s biggest operator worldwide. The top men’s players these days with a different racket are Daniel Windahl and Karl Knutson, although Padel is so dominated by Spain and Argentina, that the two best Swedish men are at number 142 and 147 in the world.
Daniel Windahl: Padel is so big in Spain that it’s like it’s football, then it’s Padel, then it’s basketball, but Sweden have been developing really fast and we see exactly the same thing happening in Sweden now.
Narrator: It’s still at the amateur level that the sport is really thriving. The basics are easy to pick up, especially when there’s the chance to learn from the best, straight off the bat.
Paul Rhys: The Swedish Padel scene has become so strong it’s now attracting players and coaches from Spain, meaning even beginners can get top level one-on-one training.
Narrator: It’s a give-and-take relationship. For Spanish players like world number 87, Jose Carlos Gaspar, being in Sweden gives him the chance to up his game.
Jose C Gaspar: Here now the Padel is growing a lot. Here there are the best opportunities for players. I can notice in the physical trainings because in Spain I was one of the best. Here we have three and I am the worst.
Narrator: The lack of lockdown in Sweden has helped the sport thrive here. Once the pandemic ends, it should mean Padel gets a relaunch in the rest of the world as well. Paul Rhys, Al Jazeera, Malmo, Sweden.
How Padel is Becoming One of Qatar’s Most Popular Sports
On Screen Text: Padel becomes Doha’s new popular sport. Qatar has embraced Padel tennis into its sporting fabric. Doha News visited Padel In, one of the leading clubs in the country. We sat with influential sports personality, Mohammed Saadon to talk about the sport.
Mohammed Saadon: I am an ex-Tennis player. I played tennis for over 17 years. I played tennis professionally. I tried Padel for the first time in 2016. I really liked the sport. In 2017 my older brother Abdel-Aziz decided to open the first Padel club here in Qatar in Qatar sports club. He brought two courts from Spain and in 2017 we started playing Padel, and gradually we started to love the sport.
On Screen Text: According to an estimate, over 10,000 people in Qatar have been exposed to the sport so far. More than 4,000 people are registered with the club currently.
Mohammed Saadon: I think the speed of growth of Padel in Qatar is massive. It’s faster I think than any other country in terms of players playing Padel but also in terms of Padel private courts as well. With the other companies in the market there are a total of let’s say 25 to 30 courts and there are more than 50 courts for private owners.
The Introduction of Padel to The UK
Narrator: Now finally tonight a new sport that could be about to take the UK by storm, and it’s been pioneered in West Yorkshire. Yes it’s huge in Argentina and Spain. In fact it’s said to be the fastest growing sport in the world. So what is it? Well it’s called Padel and the best way to describe it is, well it’s to get John Shires to explain.
John Shires: Okay, here are the basics, Padel is a cross between tennis, squash and racket ball, played outdoors always in doubles on an enclosed caught about two-thirds the size of a tennis court. Here in Huddersfield they have just opened the only two court facility in the UK. According to the man behind it, it won’t be the last.
Peter Vann: It’s so easy to play. If you’ve ever played swing ball on the beach or paddle ball on the beach it’s as easy as that, you don’t really need all the technique that tennis demands. I mean though it takes years, tennis is such a hard sport to learn from scratch, whereas this, you can go on the court with no racket skills whatsoever. Four people and you can have fun in 10 minutes. You can have rallies, you’re not picking the ball up, you don’t have to worry about serving because it’s under arm. It’s very easy to play, that’s why.
John Shires: Within a few years of being invented in Mexico, it’s now the most played sport in Argentina ahead of football would you believe, and in six years it’s become the second biggest participation sport in Spain with six million players. And although the courts are part of the tennis club here in Huddersfield, don’t worry, you don’t have to be a member, anyone can turn up and play and play.
Tony Lee: The cost of hiring a court is divided by four people as opposed to playing singles tennis so it’s half the cost of playing. There’s no membership involved, it’s great, it’s a wonderful way of introducing the game to a new generation of players.
John Shires: Padel is played with a solid bat and a low compression tennis ball that doesn’t bounce as high and the rules are pretty simple. You serve under arm, you can play off the glass walls at the end of the court, the scoring is the same as tennis.
Caroline Mount: Anyone can come and play it. I mean people here have been playing maybe twice since the courts have opened and they absolutely love it. Everyone who has played has just really enjoyed it. It’s really easy to pick up.
Peter Vann: The more people that are exposed to this, the more people that come and see it, the more people who play it, the more people get hooked, and it is, it’s infectious.
John Shires: All of which just leaves one question: why the name Padel? Well no one seems to know, and to be honest, no one seems to care.
Narrator: But answers on a postcard anyone if you do know why it’s called Padel. It’s supposed to be the latest big thing to come into the UK sports.