Will the world’s next big racquet sport become popular in the Philippines?
During a press conference to formally announce Play Padel in the Philippines—both the facility and the sport—last Friday, October 13, Senator Pia Cayetano could not contain her excitement about this fast growing sport.
“We are excited about introducing this fun and also fast growing sport to Filipinos,” beamed the sports-loving Cayetano to the assembled media. “I believe that this is a sport that will not only become popular here but where we can excel.”
True enough, this fast growing sport made the news in the past 24 hours with two of the top sports clubs in the world and three huge international brands chiming in.
The New York Yankees, the world’s second most valuable sports franchise, announced that it has acquired a stake in A1 Padel, the international padel tour with 50 major sporting events in countries like Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa.
FC Barcelona on the other hand, banned its players from engaging in non-team fitness and sports activities with the list including basketball, mountain, climbing, and padel among others.
The top Spanish football team has been dealing with a number of off-field injuries. While none of the current injuries stem from basketball or padel, they are just making sure everyone stays healthy.
The fact that padel was included shows that it is a popular sport.
Venture capital business DMGT, Babolat which is the world’s biggest racquet sports manufacturer, and Club Med, the pioneer in all-inclusive resorts, have also gone into padel.
Taking padel tennis nationwide
“We only started about two months ago by building our home here at the Play Padel building in Mandaluyong,” Cayetano said. “It’s just getting people to fall in love with the game. Ganun lang muna then we gradually take it nationwide and then see how we can form some competition. But the important thing is for people to get into the sport then enjoy it.”
Cayetano, who has been athletically inclined since her scholastic days, first as a varsity volleyball player, then later as a triathlete, has found her new love in padel.
“Sports has always been important to me. I don’t dabble in a sport if I don’t like it. From the very first day I tried it, sabi ko, ‘ang saya.’ There are only 24 hours in a day so saan ko hahanapin ang oras para sa padel? Nabawasan yung triathlon ko. I can have a one-hour game but you will say, ‘bitin,’ but that keeps me hungry to play the game.”
Along with Bryan Joseph Casao, who after a varsity tennis career at the University of Santo Tomas, has become a certified padel coach, as well as business partner Jammy Honorado, the trio have shared resources to not only put up the Play Padel building, but to spread the sport.
Social media personality and former United Football League player Nico Bolzico is one of those instructors and he has high hopes for the sport.
“I think it is a great sport to not just stay in shape but to also have fun because it is played indoors and always in doubles,” shared the Argentinean who has since called the Philippines home. “Indoor sports seem to be a hit with Filipinos so I am sure this will grow in popularity.”
Champion pole vaulter OJ Obiena was also on hand to try the sport. “Me? I am just excited to learn this,” said Obiena. “I do know it is an exciting sport that is growing by leaps and bounds.”
Cayetano also pointed out that some celebrities are known to play the game. The list includes footballers David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo; tennis superstars Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams; and actors Antonio Banderas and Hugh Grant.
“That goes to show the reach and promise of the sport. Who knows? Maybe we’ll also see Filipinos excel in padel and make it to the A1 Tour.”
Play Padel is located at the corner of Williams and Sheridan Streets in the Greenfield District of Mandaluyong. It has the facilities to play and teach newcomers. They encourage walk-ins as well.