Co-founder of the French Touch Academy, Charles Auffray gives us all the details around the creation of the 1st Padel/studies in France and its academy of padel in Kuwait.
Padel Magazine : First of all Charles we know that you are very active at the moment, can you tell us where are you in all your projects?
Charles Auffray: “On the one hand, I have the academy in Cap d'Agde in which we are still in transition. We have a fairly large infrastructure with 8 pitches now, more people playing, more emulation. It follows the evolution of padel in Europe, and in the world.
We are also very determined to strengthen training: more internships, given that we have just done internships for adults, we plan to do some for young people, increase the volume of internships in the summer in particular.
We are going to continue the training that we started with sport studies. For the moment we only have one because we only had one request, but we will try with the birth of the new boarding school, to create a sports study group padel also.
On the Middle East part, we ordered 20 tracks of padel. We are clearly on an "accelerated" pace. We plan to build 2 sites of padel additional, and we see that since 2021 we have been growing exponentially. And with all the events going on there, it's likely to continue to grow in the years to come. »
Padel magazine : On the Cap d'Agde part, do you want to duplicate what you have on the tennis part padel ?
Charles Auffray: "That's exactly it, the idea would be to professionalize the training of the padel, through a training center that would be created for sport studies in particular (morning lessons and afternoon training). And then a training center, possibly with French / foreign players wishing to enroll in a high-level project, wanting to train 5-6 hours a day by combining training padel and physical training with our trainers.
The idea would be to professionalize the approach to their sport, and that is our goal. If we could start this at the same time as boarding school and sports studies (from September 2022 therefore) that would be great.
The city of Cap d'Agde and the International Tennis Center directed by Yannick Martinez are active partners in this long-term project. »
Padel Magazine : As far as the Middle East is concerned, 20 tracks padel ordered in addition to what you created, it's colossal. How will your business develop there?
Charles Auffray: « The academy there was initially tennis & fitness. We had built a field of padel (indoor), when we did the construction 3 years ago. This academy (The Rafael Nadal Academy in Kuwait City) contains 16 tennis courts, 2000 m2 of fitness space, an indoor swimming pool, a 5000-seat stadium, it is therefore a real beautiful and large sports infrastructure.
It's more a country club than an academy, in which Kuwaitis and expatriates can come as in any club in France. At the same time, there is also a training center for young people from the federation and young people from all over the Middle East.
Le padel having become so democratized, that we agreed with them to order and develop the activity padel. With the 2 new sites, more than 10 tracks of padel will be installed, particularly in shopping centres, because they have understood that this is a lever for development. And there will be a 3rd club in which there will be 6 fields of padel also, all indoors. »
Padel Magazine : With all these club/court creation projects, will there be enough qualified personnel to take care of it or will you recruit more?
Charles Auffray: "Honestly, as we have to be able to respond to the growing need for group/individual lessons, we are going to need teachers of padel who can move abroad and speak English. »
Padel Magazine : How do you manage all these activities?
Charles Auffray: “I go once a month to the Middle East, and I have a very good and quite efficient team there. It's managed quite well, the academy is developing, in our Middle East part it's more support/consulting.
Although we have the main academy which is under the acronym Rafael Nadal, for the next two sites which will open I think they will remain as such and will not be associated with the image of Rafa because there doesn't necessarily need to. »
Padel Magazine : Last question, we will come back to Cap d'Agde. Behind the creation of sport-studies, do you have the ambition to create a Competition pole/Team France pole, a sort of nursery?
Charles Auffray: "It would be a sincere dream to be able to propel this sport there, and to participate in the development of the high level in terms of padel. I think we have the framework and the infrastructure to do it, but now we have to develop the culture and mix the players as much as possible. And nothing better than an academy to do it. This is one of the objectives for the next 3-4 years. »