India set to launch its first-ever professional pickleball league with World Pickleball League

Andre Agassi Plays Pickleball With World
Andre Agassi Plays Pickleball With World's Top Pros at Life Time PENN 1

World Pickleball League is all set to join the growing list of sports leagues in India as India’s first-ever professional pickleball league is all set to be launched by the end of 2024 or early next year.

Pickleball is a racket or paddle sport in which singles or doubles hit a ball with paddles over a net until one side cannot return the ball or commits a rule infraction. Pickleball is played indoors and outdoors.

The nonprofit organization, the All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) is the governing body of Pickleball in India, supporting national and local pickleball organizations.

According to the AIPA, at the moment, pickleball is played in at least 18 states in the country with 8,000 registered players and close to 35000 amateur players playing the game which is expected to touch the one million mark in the next five years.

The sport has found the limelight globally as celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Selena Gomez, and Emma Watson were spotted playing the sport. Furthermore, Former tennis legends such as Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, John McEnroe, Maria Sharapova, and Andy Roddick have been endorsing and playing the sport.

Former tennis star Gaurav Natekar is backing India’s World Pickleball League

India's World Pickleball League will also have the backing of former tennis star and Arjuna Awardee, Gaurav Natekar and his company Natekar Sports and Gaming (NSG). The NSG will invest over USD 10 Million over the next 3 to 5 years in India and Asia Pacific to promote the sport.

Additionally, the league is backed by Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI), a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

"Pickleball taps the player base of all racquet games like tennis, badminton and squash," said Natekar.

The league has secured a multi-country licensing agreement for 10 years with the AIPA, which is affiliated with the International Pickleball Federation (IPF). The World Pickleball League has set its sights on reaching over 30 million households.

The inaugural pickleball league will have six franchises, each showcasing six to eight players. These teams will consist of a blend of top international talents from across the globe and promising Indian players.

Edited by Ankush Das
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