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“Pickleball has changed my life for which I will remain grateful to AIPA…..”

Niraj Sharma

DOB:              3rd January 1987

State:             Rajasthan

City:               Jaipur

Club:              Vidyadhar Nagar Club, Playard & Skyfut 

Niraj Sharma belongs to Jaipur and his Pickleball journey started almost like other players from Rajasthan. It was 2016 when the National Tournament was going to be conducted at Jaipur and the state team needed players.       

“The trials were happening at Vidyadhar Nagar Stadium that is near to my house. As I was a Tennis player, I took little time to understand the game and fortunately got selected in the team. I got the opportunity to represent my state in Mixed Doubles with Megha Kapoor. She was also new but we practised almost 6 hours everyday for a month to make ourselves ready. In our first tournament we won the bronze medal. After that I did not look back.”

Niraj followed Pickleball passionately. It gave him a chance to represent his state and eventually his country. In Bangkok Open 2018, Niraj grabbed silver medal and thus won his first international medal. Later he participated in Spanish Open in Madrid and will be soon travelling to Germany to play Bainbridge Cup in Essen.   

“I always get positive response about Indian players abroad. And all credit goes to AIPA for this. The organisation has made this game happen in India and all players are indebted to AIPA. Our state secretaries are also doing fabulous works. All our players have improved their level and can compete in any international tournament. Apart from this, the AIPA-organised Indian Open is also a talking point. International players wait to come to India and play this tournament.”  

Indian Pickleball is now well-respected internationally. All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) has contributed steadily to grow this game in India. This has given immense opportunities to players to show their skill and talent. Niraj Sharma is one such player who has never let an opportunity go by.    

“I played both Tennis and Table Tennis but that was only for my clubs and office. When I saw Pickleball, I understood that this is the game to which I can give the best. It’s a great pride for me that I can represent my country in international tournaments. It is a complete different feeling when one goes abroad to correspond his country’s message to the rest of the world.”

Today, Niraj Sharma is a well-known name in Indian Pickleball. His goodwill has enabled him to achieve the feat of becoming Selkirk Team Manager of India, Singapore and Thailand. He travels a lot and perfectly balances his profession and passion.

“Pickleball has given me a name. I want to put maximum effort for the spread of this game. But there are certain challenges. When we organise tournament, it is difficult to find a proper place. If we get one, then comes the question of resources. Finding sponsor for this new game is a daunting task. Still there is much fun and satisfaction in organising a tournament. It teaches us how to deal with adversities. Moreover, when all players come together and support, then nothing seems to be impossible.”  

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS  

National

  • Bronze Medal in Mixed Doubles at 4th Senior Doubles Open Pickleball Tournament in Jaipur
  • Silver in Mixed Doubles at 5th Senior National Pickleball Championship in Bengaluru
  • Gold Medal in Mixed Doubles at Rajasthan State Pickleball Tournament in Jaipur
  • Gold Medal in Men’s Doubles at 1st MP Open Tournament in Indore
  • Gold Medal in Men’s Doubles at JNS Pickleball Tournament in Mumbai
  • Bronze Medal in Men’s Doubles at Jaipur Open Pickleball Tournamnt in Jaipur

International

  • Silver Medal in Mixed Doubles at Bangkok Open Pickleball Tournment in Bangkok
  • Gold Medal in Men’s Doubles at Spain Open Pickleball Tournament in Madrid
  • Bronze Medal in Mixed Doubles at Spain Open Pickleball Tournament in Madrid
  • Silver Medal in Men’s Doubles at 2nd Indian Open Pickleball Championship in Mumbai

Others

  • Successfully organised big events like Jaipur Open Pickleball Tournament and Khar Gymkhana Tournament with Khar players.
  • Started few Pickleball clubs in Jaipur and conducted around 20 Pickleball demos.
  • Appointed Selkirk Team Manager for India, Singapore and Thailand.

About Poulomi Kundu

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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