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Padel comes to Dublin

Carlos González

“We usually have the same budget money, for example, because the prices are the same for all, so it is only fair to have the same money available. No matter even if the draw its bigger for the man and more players come.”

Antonette Andersson

Last weekend from 25th to 27th of February, the Qualy II Seniors World Padel Championship took place in Dublin. This is the qualification to participate in the final phase of this tournament in Las Vegas. The sports centre that hosted the event was the Bushy Park Tennis and Padel club.

Six countries travelled to the Irish capital to take part in the competition: Germany, Denmark, France, Sweden, Ireland and the United Kingdom. All teams competed in the men’s and women’s categories, except for the UK, which competed only in the men’s category.

For those who still don’t know what sport we are talking about, padel is a racket sport, or rather a paddle sport, played on a 20×10 metres glass-walled court. The walls are key because they are used all the time. This is one of the big differences it has with tennis, for example, a sport with which it is often compared because it is also a racket game. There is a net to separate the court into two fields, which are occupied by two players in each, meaning that a total of 4 players take part.

It has a long history in Argentina and Spain and a lot of repercussion in these countries nowadays. However, it is growing a lot in Europe and South America.

After a weekend of many matches, on Sunday the countries that would go to Las Vegas were decided. In the men’s category were France, Germany, Sweden and Great Britain who qualified for the finals round of the tournament. In the women’s category were France, Sweden and Denmark.

Carlos González, Irish padel team

At the end of the tournament, we were lucky enough to have a chat with one of the players of the Swedish women’s team, Antonette Andersson. She said she started playing padel in 2014 in Sweden, a year since when the sport has grown tremendously across Europe.

Sweden is a country where the conditions and climate make it difficult to practice many sports, especially in winter. That is why padel, which is usually played on indoor courts, unlike tennis, for example, is attracting more and more people. You can play at any time of the year regardless of the temperature outside.

Question: Despite this progress, the sport still has a long way to go. Is it possible to make a living from padel nowadays?

Answer: You can work in padel, as a trainer for example, and make money of that. But for now, is not available to make a living as a player, at least in my case. Money is not enough.

Maybe with sponsors, like there are some top male players, that are one hundred per cent padel players, and the sponsors money coming in for their efforts. But you know, normally when you go to play a tournament you have to pay for your own travel expenses, accommodation and so on.

And often if you don’t win the tournament or get a good position, you are losing money. That’s why sponsors are so important.

Q: How was the Qualy Championship? How do you feel about the organisation of the tournament and its development?

A: Yeah, its good, its good, its being nice, and the irish are being very friendly, so we feel very welcome to be invited to play here. It’s the end of February, it’s cold, which changes the playing conditions. But yeah, it was worth coming, we have been welcomed very nicely and we definitely enjoyed the tournament.

Carlos González, Sweden vs France.

Q: Finally, I would like to relate sport to social issues. Unlike other sports, padel is managing to give equal importance to women’s and men’s categories, which almost always go hand in hand. With the coverage given to them in the media or with the organisation of events. What do you personally think about this? Should other sports take this as an example?

A: Well, at least that is what we are fighting for in Sweden. That everything is the same, its equal. We usually have the same budget money, for example, because the prices are the same for all, so it is only fair to have the same money available. No matter even if the draw its bigger for the man and more players come. Women still spend just as much money in travel and trains and whatever it takes. So that is where we start for, in Sweden at least.

I think it can certainly be a precedent or an example for other sports, which are too often associated with one gender.

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