BENGALURU: Nicknamed 'tennis with walls’ and ‘squash in the sun’, the sports padel has reached 2,000 people in Bengaluru, who have tried their hands at it at courts on Sarjapur Road, Hennur and Sadashivanagar.
Dr CN Ashwath Narayana, Member of Karnataka Legislative Assembly, has set up the latest court in Sadashivanagar, and is now planning on installing a padel court at Unique Women’s Regional Centre in Malleshwaram. According to him, padel is a sport that eliminates the gap between male and female players, making it socially-inclusive. Due to its similarity to already-existing racket sports like tennis and squash, padel has been gaining popularity for its simplicity and relatability. Apart from his morning runs, he makes sure to take time out to play padel at least once a week with his family.
Being a promoter of fitness, healthy living and women empowerment, Dr Narayana teamed up with the Indian Padel Federation (IPF) to develop and promote the sport among women and children. “The court is already bustling with more than a 100 active players,” he says, adding, “The turf is soft on the knees, making it possible even for the elderly to play.”
It is now the fastest growing sport in the world, as there are 30 million players across five continents playing in more than 40 countries. It will soon be an Olympic sport, says president of the IPF, Sneha Abraham Sehgal. Established in 2016 and with its headquarters in Bengaluru, IPF is a non-profit body, dedicated to the development and promotion of padel in India. IPF will work in conjunction with the Federación Internacional de Pádel in Spain to make padel the most popular racket sport in India, says Sehgal.
Sehgal is thankful to Dr Narayana for setting up more padel courts across the city, and explains why Bengaluru was chosen as the prime city to promote the sport. She says, “Bengaluru is perfect for promoting padel, since it has a huge number of existing racket sport players. Being a cosmopolitan city, it has a young and vibrant population, who have responded extremely well to the sport.”
With more than five million players in Spain, Surbhi Sharma, Honorary Consul of Spain in Bengaluru, envisions the same scope for the sport in Bengaluru. She says, “Bengaluru is the innovation hub of India, acting as a sponge when it comes to absorbing new activities. Padel is suitable for kids, housewives, corporate employees and retired professionals across the world.”
Counsellor Pavitra M Manu is an active padel player and recommends it to all women. She says, “I feel absolutely energised when I play padel. I've recommended this sport to my female friends and we play it regularly.” Indian badminton player Ashwini Monappa's aunt, Sudha Medapa, (62), says, “More women should take up Padel as it is a great form of exercise.”