Pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in America, is a lesser known sports in India. Pickleball that involves a court and a net is a combination of Badminton, Lawn Tennis and Table Tennis. The game is struggling to mark its presence despite it being included in Olympics in junior category. The game is recognised by the Government of India and is a part of the Asian Games. Samarth Surya Mishra from Bhilai is leaving no stone unturned to make Pickleball popular in Chhattisgarh as well as rest of India and prepare sportspersons who can match global standard. Samarth, a first year Biotechnology student from National Institute of Technology (NIT) Raipur, recently organised Asia Flex Pickleball League successfully in Bhilai. Besides, Samarth himself participated in the League and clinched silver medal. Samarth had also won gold medal in Indian Open Pickleball held last year while representing Chhattisgarh in the event.
Samarth shared his views on sports and future prospects with The Hitavada. Excerpts:
Q. Samarth, when did you start playing Pickleball?
A. Well I started playing this game when I was in 12th standard. And in 2019 the association worked really hard to provide us a court. So since 2019 October I have been playing this game regularly.
Q. What are you doing currently and how Pickleball helps you in your lifestyle?
A. I am pursuing my Bachelors in Technology from NIT Raipur. Being an engineering student, there are many works and assignments to complete. So in the past time if one plays Pickleball it will really give him/her a positive energy and a physically challenging activity to complete.
Q. What is Pickleball and how do we play it?
A. Well I think Pickleball will be the new cool of the 21st century. As it is easy to play and a dynamic discipline and is a combination of table tennis and lawn tennis. The best part is that is can be played by a person of any age. Boys under 10 and also old men above 60 can play it. You just have to start and then the sport is quite addictive.
Q. How was the Asia Flex League and what are the benefits of it?
A. Well it was amazingly held by the association. Players enjoyed each and every game. There were around 45 players playing overall and 70+ games were held. The champions of this tournament will play the champions of other state and it will be a bigger league next time. After that in the national level, winners will get to play Asia Championship and then eventually the World Championship which is held in USA only. Our players are quite excited about it.
Q. How is a Pickleball ball exactly?
A. It is a plastic or fibre ball or polypropylene ball with holes in it to cancel the air drag. So air has very minimal effect in the game.
Q. Why should someone choose to play Pickleball?
A. Actually it is a game which requires enormous mental strength and only a physically active person can play it. So it is mind exercise plus physical exercise at the same time. All the people should definitely try it once. After all each sport has its own benefit to offer.
Q. What is Pickleball Global?
A. It is the software website we administrators use for tournaments, world rankings, fixtures and also for connecting players worldwide. It is a group of all the pickleball enthusiasts. Jan David is the director. So you can register yourself there for free. Just log into pickleball global, you will find all the major tournaments happening all around the world.
Q. What is the role of APF?
A. Amateur Pickleball Federation India is the governing body that sees and seeks for the development of pickleball as a sport in India. The state associations report to that body.
Q. How is Chhattisgarh Pickleball Association working towards the development of the sport?
A. Well we are conducting regular tournaments and regular practice sessions for players. We also call International coaches every Sunday and they give training sessions to our players.