The Herts Sport and Physical Activity Partnership (HSP) was proud to host the county’s inaugural Pickleball Festival recently, when more than 100 players from across the region attended the event held at the Hertfordshire Sports Village, Hatfield.
As Saturday parkrunners warmed their cockles following a morning jaunt, the next generation of bat and ball players limbered up inside the sports hall, ready for an afternoon of demonstrations, match play and friendly competition.
Primarily targeting the over 45’s, Pickleball has been coined as the UK’s fastest growing sport. Using techniques akin to those found in tennis, badminton and squash, the game is played on a small court, over a net. A lightweight paddle and ball make Pickleball an easy sport to learn, and teams of two mean the running about can be shared. This year alone has seen 400 new Hertfordshire players to the game, with a regular weekly cohort of 200 working up a sweat on court.
HSP Associate Peter Simmons oversaw the planning of the event, and has worked with local authority Sports Development Officers set up a county-wide programme.
‘We were truly overwhelmed by the number of players in attendance at the festival. For a sport which is still relatively new to the county, support like this is precisely the driving force it needs. By the end of the day, plans for a 2019 event were beginning to emerge, fuelled by the enthusiastic volunteer organisers, to whom we are truly grateful..
‘We have two established clubs in the county; Braughing & District Pickleball Club, and Pickleball North Herts. A number of regular ‘come and try’ sessions also take place in Hatfield, Broxbourne and Bushey.’
Hertfordshire County Council’s Cllr. Richard Roberts was in attendance on the day, and enjoyed learning the ropes of the game.
Peter went on to comment:
‘Advocacy for the sport from Cllr. Roberts will really help to put Pickleball on the map, and shows how the Partnership is continuing its mission to bring new activities to Hertfordshire residents. We hope he has found a new hobby!’
Plans are underway for the creation of a National Governing Body for the sport, and to gain full recognition from Sport England. Karen and Frank, founders of Pickleball England, were there on the day to encourage players to join the affiliation movement. More information can be found at www.pickleballengland.org.
For more information on where you can play Pickleball in Hertfordshire, visit Pickleball in Hertfordshire.