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“Pickleball is not just an ordinary game, it develops social bonding with huge element of fitness and skill …….”

with Chetan Sanil

DOB:                      28th March 1971

State:                    Maharashtra

City:                       Mumbai

Club:                     Jal Mangal Deep Youth Club (JMDYC)

An Indian Air Force veteran, who had served the nation for 20 years, has found his childhood days in Pickleball. Chetan Sanil, the man who has been instrumental in making Pickleball a source of community development in his residential complex, remembers those days when he and his group of friends played a similar game like Pickleball after school hours.

“During our school days, we used to play similar game on a cemented surface with a Table Tennis racket and Table Tennis plastic ball. The net was similarly tied at the ground level like in Tennis. I didn’t know that after so many years I would be hooked on to this game which we played during our childhood days.”

Pickleball was introduced to Chetan Sanil by Manoj Jadhav- a Jal Mangal Deep Society resident- with the help of Manish Rao. Though initially he did not play with them, he first had a crush when he saw Pickleball being played as one of the sports during their annual sports event ‘Khel Mahotsav’.

“Jal Manga Deep Youth Club (JMDYC) organises this sport event for its members in December-January every year. Pickleball was one of the games at the event besides Carrom, Table-tennis, Badminton, Cricket, Football. I have played Badminton and Table Tennis before. But Pickleball has a different feel.”

Chetan Sanil has found that the skill level and physical attributes required for this sport is less as compared to other racquet sports. Pickleball is safe as it is less injury prone and can be played by people of all age group. This led him and some other like-minded residents to include Pickleball in their unique residential sports culture. Jal Mangal Deep Society has set an example of how sports can be used for community development.

“The core group of JMDYC which plans and execute any programme or events have great bonding and think alike. Planning for a Pickleball court in a residential complex like ours was an uphill task but we somehow managed to convince our society committee members and obtained necessary financial sanction. We also chipped in with our resources and finally prepared the court. The Pickleball court has now become an area where we spend our evening time either playing or just bonding with each other. The female folks who never used to play any sport earlier too have joined in to play Pickleball. Playing Pickleball and bonding with each other has been the biggest advantage that this game has provided for us.”

This initiative of ‘JMDians’ opened Pickleball to all people of the society. The women spend their leisure on court, the middle-aged group take some time out from their busy schedule and play the game and even the youth bond over Pickleball rather than staying over phone.

“Surely the game is open for all to display their skills which we can currently witness in all players in India. We now have amazing talents in all age groups competing with each other.”

But as an organiser of tournaments, Chetan Sanil feels the difficulty in explaining the advantage of Pickleball to any institution or company and individuals for sponsorship.

“Any sponsor will always look for returns in terms of footfalls that such events or tournaments shall generate to promote their products or company. This is not happening in Pickleball till now. But I feel this will change in future as many people associated with this game in different parts of the country are trying hard to promote this game in their respective state which is a positive sign for the growth of this game.”

The sport is growing in India. New states are joining in, the administrators are coming with fresh ideas and players and tournaments are increasing.

“The State and District Associations should have a roadmap prepared on how the game can be spread to all parts of their State or District. Mr Sunil Valavalkar has done a phenomenal work in terms of creating AIPA and spreading the game in India. The foundation has been laid; we need to strengthen it with proper teamwork and documentation. There are many grey areas which needs immediate attention. It must be noted that the AIPA/State/District officials are all doing honorary work by taking their time out from their busy schedule and putting in huge efforts to promote the game. They need to be appreciated and supported in their endeavour.”

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Bronze in First Mumbai Suburban District Unseeded Pickleball Tournament held at  JNS, Mumbai in April 2018
  • Silver in Men’s Singles (40+) at 3rd Indian Open Tournament held at Jaipur in January 2020
  • Silver in Men’s Doubles (40+) at 3rd Indian Open Tournament held at Jaipur in January 2020
  • Member of the organising committee for the A.R. Natarajan Memorial 2nd Indian Open tournament held at Mumbai in 2018
  • Tournament Director and in the organising committee for the 1st JMDYC Open Tournament held at Mumbai in June, 2019 
  • Member of the organising committee for the 1st AIPA-RYP National Ranking Tournament held at Pune in December, 2019

About Poulomi Kundu

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