Home EXCLUSIVES “I want Dhanbad to be the Pickleball hub of Eastern India…..”, Sneh...

“I want Dhanbad to be the Pickleball hub of Eastern India…..”, Sneh Giri

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The Indian settled in Chicago- Sneh Giri wants the eternal bond with his homeland stay strong; and by choosing Pickleball as the medium for this connect, he aims to make his native place Dhanbad one of the most developed regions in Indian Pickleball. 

Why you chose Pickleball?

Sneh Giri: I heard of Pickleball in 2020 during the COVID-19 period. People were then opting for non-contact sports, and some of my friends started playing it. I was skeptical a bit; as to how this sport, with such a name, would be. It was in 2021 when things started easing out a little bit, one of my friends invited me to the court to play Pickleball. And I  remember, on that first day, it was so much fun that I directly stopped at a sport shop while returning home and bought a paddle and some balls.

How you are continuing it?

Sneh Giri: Now I play Pickleball regularly for two to three hours. I haven’t taken any formal training but I minutely observe seasoned players. I try to figure out my faults by observing them and rectify those during my practice sessions. I play a lot of local tournaments and also some tournaments outside Chicago. Recently I won silver in Men’s Doubles at Illinois State Pickleball Tournament. I played 8 games there, won 7 but lost the final.

How Pickleball has made its own identity in the USA?

Sneh Giri: It is like a fire in the US. People are crazy about Pickleball; the situation now is such that there are more players and less courts. At the place I play, there are eight courts and all those are booked from 4 o’ clock in the evening till 10:30 at night. People stand in queue to get their chance to play. There are squabbles, arguments, pushing, rushing and all other crazy things happening to play the sport. There are new courts coming up and many sports goods manufacturers are investing heavily on Pickleball paddles and balls. So Pickleball has really made a place and identity of its own.

Why did you think promoting Pickleball in India?

Sneh Giri: I was doing a lot in Pickleball in Chicago- playing it, inviting people to play it, running a Pickleball club, etc. So this summer, before my visit to India, I thought of doing something with this sport in India. My initial plan was to introduce Pickleball there as I was unaware that it already has its prominent existence in India. I googled it and to my surprise I found the name of Mr Sunil Valavalkar who had introduced the sport in 2006. I quickly pinged him to which he heartily replied.

I met him personally in Mumbai and concluded that he is one of the very few guys who is so passionate about Pickleball. Another thing that I found in Mumbai were the high-standard courts. I played in a court at Dombivali which I can proudly say is better that many courts in the US. I also played with Indian players; some of them have very high-level. So, I understood that my plans of promoting the sport in India would definitely work here.

How Dhanbad came into your scheme of things?

Sneh Giri: Here also Sunil Valavalkar played his part. When he heard that I belong to Dhanbad, he just picked up the phone and dialed Gaurav Kumar. He introduced me to him and it turned out that Gaurav is my neighbour in Dhanbad. So when I went home, I met him, discussed in length about Pickleball and took the decision of promoting it together in our city.

How things started falling into places?

Sneh Giri: Initially I wanted to understand the exact situation of Pickleball in Dhanbad and places nearby. So I proposed Gaurav to organise the Jharkhand Pickleball Tournament. We invited players from Dhanbad as well as from other cities of Jharkhand like Bokaro, Jamshedpur, Jharia, Deogarh. It was a very good turn out at the tournament where I found almost 10-12 players of international standard and that too like Level 4 players. I realized if these players and many more like them get appropriate guidance, proper infrastructure and good facilities, then they would further grow and flourish.

Sneh Giri with Jharkhand players
Sneh Giri with Jharkhand players

So I made up my mind to do every possible thing for the promotion of Pickleball in Dhanbad. Soon after I met the Mayor of Dhanbad who patiently listened to my plans and readily agreed to help me. Now we have planned to construct 4-5 world-class courts in Dhanbad for Pickleball players. All these players can demonstrate the game to as many people as they can; in schools, colleges, offices, residential buildings and so on so forth. Even players from other eastern states like Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal can come here to play. Eventually, my goal is to make Dhanbad the Pickleball hub of Eastern India.

What is your appeal to fellow Indians settled abroad?     

Sneh Giri: Just as I am trying my best to promote Pickleball in my native place, similarly I want my friends in the US do it in their own states. I can act as a connect between them and Indian associations. Sometimes it is not at all about money, but it is all about passion and love to make things happen.

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PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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