Shashank Khaitan is leading the initiative to promote the growing sport of Pickleball in India


Global Sports – Formed a year and a half ago, Global Sports has been setting up an ecosystem for Pickleball in Mumbai, Goa, and across India. Conducting Coaching, providing courts to play, and organising tournaments in Mumbai and Goa. It aims to make Pickleball a household name and provide athletes an opportunity to make this game a career.

With two successful championships in 2023 – Indian Open in Goa – with over 240 players, The Global Sports Pickleball Championship held in May with over 370 players. The Monsoon Cup with over 500 participants promises to be the grandest pickleball event in India.

In an exclusive interview with SpogoNews, Shashank Khaitan talks about his inspiration and vision to grow the sport of pickleball in India.

1) What inspired you to venture into the pickleball business in India?

The first time I played the game of pickleball, I first realized it was a fun game to play. Then the more I researched I realized that it’s gaining a lot of international exposure. America is invested in it heavily, Europe is getting there and realized India has a very vibrant culture on a small scale but very high quality immediately for someone like me who has been into sports all his life I felt it is a great opportunity to see how far the game can go and I think in the last six months the growth I have already seen is really positive that this will be a big game in India and Asia.

2) How has the popularity of pickleball grown in India over the past few years?

The good thing that is happening is a lot of corporates, their second-generation children have studied in the US so when they came back they realized the growth of Pickleball internationally so a lot of them have come with an interest where they would like to invest in the game. There is already a buzz in the corporate segment, the youth in the country, and a lot of people playing other racquet sports. People are watching the game, everything happening internationally is spreading here, India forming at high levels in Asia and Europe is also encouraging the growth of a lot of talent on display and I think with the fact that there are media, corporate and people interest I think that any sport needs the combination of these three. 

3) What unique challenges did you face while establishing your pickleball business in the Indian market?

I think I still continue to face the challenges. Firstly is the awareness that people should know about pickleball right now it is a bit of a hard sell but I think everyone who comes and attends our events and tournaments kind of becomes a believer so I think it is just about saying the next 2 to 3 years are very important to keep playing and keep organizing world-class events so that more cooperate more media watch the game. It starts reaching the living rooms of people and I think that’s the most important challenge as well as focus.

4) Can you share your insights into the demand for pickleball equipment and facilities in India?

I think it is increasing, speaking about the growth of the courts and the infrastructure. When I started out there were 10 courts already. In the next 5 months, there were 22 courts. We are already in talks for 12 courts in Mumbai city itself. Across the country, there is a massive demand for it. Equipment is increasing, we as a company have already 100 paddles of sales just through our centers. So I think the growth is going to be substantial the way I am looking at it. Soon it is going to be a 100 crore market and I am speaking on a very conservative level. With the interest of equipment in play. Players across the globe who are now contacting us and want to have their brands established here I think the future is really bright.

WhatsApp-Image-2023-08-24-at-15.01.55-1-683x1024 Shashank Khaitan is leading the initiative to promote the growing sport of Pickleball in India

5) What strategies did you employ to promote pickleball and attract enthusiasts to your business?

Right now it is a very so-called bullish attitude to say let’s organize it if someone backs it great or we will figure it out and get some celebrity presence. Luckily my background in Bollywood is helping me get a few people interested. I think also with companies like Cornerstone Sport, and Pickleball United also getting interested now I think the future is good, I think all sports management companies, all people who are investing in alternative sports are now realising the value of it and as I said the strategy is to attract as many investors, players so they can see the potential which I am already seeing.

6) How do you differentiate your pickleball offerings from other sports and recreational activities in India?

I think the biggest thing is that it is a community sport, to begin with, compared to most other racquet sport pickleball is a simpler game to pick up which adds to the community field, lots of people are playing there is no gender issues, you can have men and women play together and competing each other. Age is not a barrier when it comes to playing doubles so 40-year-olds can play with 18 yrs and still be competitive so I think this makes it a unique sport. Also because infrastructurally,  it is not very expensive and a great sport for India to adopt.

7) What partnerships or collaborations have you formed to enhance the growth of pickleball in the country?

I think three very substantial ones, one is ofcourse the fact that Cornerstone Sport and I are talking about something on a larger level which will really help with their experience in sports, sports management and events I think we can gain from that. Pickleball United which is already a very big player in the American market is now trying to create its footprint and our collaboration with them is already designing a plan for the players and showing them a future which can be bright and I think people like APP who are powering us who are kind of showing their interest, it’s one of the largest semi- professional federation in America, they showing keen interest and wanting to be here. It kind of shows we are on the right path and as I said we will require more such partnership going ahead to ensure this becomes a really big pie and we can all have a piece of it.

8) Could you discuss the role of coaching and training programs in developing the pickleball community in India?

Extremely important, we have just tied up with a very good coaching company called Blaze Pickleball. Run by two very big players Harsh and Armaan. We have just entered an exclusive collaboration with them. I think coaching is the future, the more people know how to play the game correctly. We will be able to compete on a global level other than that Global Sports along with Pickleball United is planning to bring a lot of American Clinics to India. Our first offering is going to be in October so yes coaching is going to play an important role and luckily we are already at the forefront of it.

9) What future plans do you have to expand and evolve your pickleball business in India?

I think three very clear plans, to have a lot of infrastructure, a lot of coaching for players and their awareness, and a third partnership with the correct cooperates and sports companies to create certain IPs so that we can really become a Global sport and not necessarily something which is just India specific because ultimately we will all need to collaborate to give it a world view.

10) How do you envision the long-term impact of your business on the sports and fitness landscape in India?

Oh, I think pickleball is great for fitness. I mean from my own personal example in the last 6 months I have in fact stopped going to the gym as much and have been training and down 10kgs. It is a great fitness game and like I said because it is a game that is cheaper, infrastructure is not expensive I think more and more Indians can play and already mentioned there is no age barrier you can see 50, 60 years old playing it so i think from the fitness perspective it is a great game to play. So I think three important things: a great community builder, a fitness builder, and a great career option.

Also read: One can always remain in control when the mind is strong- Shuttler Rujula Ramu 


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