Yangzhou China – Dear friend, fellow pickleball player and International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) board member Carolyn Stevens presented pickleball to hundreds of urban department leaders, entrepreneurs and industry elite at the 2018 Chinese World Sporting Events & Tourism (WSET) Summit. The IFP was one of 16 international bodies from 11 countries invited to present their sports. In addition to sport-specific presentations covering pickleball, volleyball, baseball, rowing, equestrian, archery and skiing, there were presentations from the International Olympic Committee, the Korean Olympics, Para Sport, UNESCO and other sport tourism organizations. The purpose of the summit was to introduce Chinese sport administrators to various sport opportunities they may offer their citizens. China’s philosophy is to have a sport park within 10 minutes of where every resident lives in the major cities. Carolyn explained these key points:
1. It’s an easy sport to learn at any age offering youth the opportunity to learn transferable paddle/racquet skills at a very young age and providing seniors an activity they can enjoy regardless of skill level.
2. The pro level has been around for only a couple years with top players coming from other paddle/racquet sports, ones that China is known to dominate, making it a natural fit.
3. Chinese signature funding of sports and athletes will quickly produce world-class players.
When it comes to tourism and pickleball, Carolyn offered three far-sighted concepts:
1. As the sport grows in China, tournaments will grow in size, bringing people in from outside local areas to participate, similar to what the USAPA National Championships does in the USA.
2. As pickleball grows in China, the IFP will want to host an international event in China.
3. Local tournaments may be marketed with tour operators as a package to attract the North American senior group of pickleball players who have time and money to travel.
Following Carolyn’s presentation, she was approached by representatives from Chengdu, a city of over 14 million people in western China. They were extremely interested in bringing pickleball to their city. Thanks to Paddletek who donated paddles, Carolyn was able to leave them with equipment.
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