When did padel first start in Australia? What was the first club like?
During 2015, I moved back from overseas to set up Padel in Australia, as at that stage no clubs existed.
I had helped set up clubs in France, England and Italy, and understood the importance of proper funding and a good atmosphere when developing clubs sustainably. In January 2016, we set up Padel Sydney, in a central location in Sydney where I knew the owners of an entertainment district there. They very generously gave us a good rental deal, and allowed us to build the Club on an old bus carpark!
How did the local population find padel at the start?
To open the club initially we set up a marketing campaign to encourage new players to “play for free I’m VIP”, as we knew that it was very important for new players to “taste” the sport of Padel, before getting them addicted.
Once they had tried the new sport of Padel, they absolutely LOVED it and were hooked. We then asked that they bring 3 of their friends to show off their new skills, and started the process of building the club.
How much has the sport grown in the last couple of years?
The sport has grown solidly with now 3 clubs in Australia, and around 1000 players in total playing in Australia. The main challenges we have had with the sport of Padel is finding a suitable location to create a club, and then funding the entrepreneurs into opening a club.
We have many locations seeking a club, and some investors wishing to build a club, so we need to “match” these 2 groups up.
We know now that people when they try Padel absolutely love it, so its a matter of building the clubs and then marketing to the local community via free trials until it catches on – which it has always done….
Where are you now? How many courts in the country and how many players?
Around 1000 players and 10 courts.
What is your focus for the next year? What do you think will be the future of padel in Australia?
Our 5 year future plan is to have Padel in 25 city locations around Australia, which will cover 60% of the population. We already have 3 so 22 to go (and plans in 3 more locations).
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Author: Matt Barrelle – President of Australian Padel Federation (APF)