Focus on Claude Baigts, the President of the European Association of Private Padel Clubs (EACP). Nicknamed by some, the “french padel dinosaur“, He returns to the many themes that cross our sport, padel.

He proposes the creation of a national padel agency in the French Tennis Federation. An idea that is gaining ground and which Claude Baights echoes.

The French Open: a success

From the end of the 2016 edition of the French Open which was a success and which allowed us to talk to the leaders of the major brands of Padel: Head, Dunlop, Kelme, Kaktus Padel, leaders of Federations, coaches, players, we realized that the clubs were not sufficiently promoted by the federations, in France as on the international level.

For example, in France, we still do not have interclubs but the project is under study, whereas we have been supposed to be a padel nation for a few years now. Italy and Spain have very strong interclubs.

This is why we wanted to launch a European Cup for private padel clubs. And the least we can say is that the model is working. The clubs are asking. Players can thus enjoy a unique international event. Padel is growing on all continents and in 2018 we opened the door to African clubs.

In France, a good job, but ...

The administrative management of French padel is complicated. Everywhere I go, we realize that there are a lot of simple things that we could review and especially not do.

Take the recent example of the P2000 padel events in France organized by the FFT. On paper, the FFT is doing a good job. She helps the clubs, the players are delighted, it helps to create a great French event. Since the presidency of Bernard Gudecceli, it has invested significant sums. However, a little against all expectations, it prohibits foreign players from participating in P2000 linked to its recovery plan.

We can admit: who was not surprised by these regulations? The FFT is part of the FIP (Fédération Internationale de Padel). Was there a consensus on this theme? Did the FFT do this alone?

Have we already seen, in another country like Spain, Argentina, Portugal, Italy or even Sweden, foreigners who are not allowed to participate in a padel event? (apart from a competition to award a national title). Are tennis tournaments closed to foreign players?

Morally embarrassed

I am embarrassed morally, but also in terms of the interest of the competition.

Our best French players play and train in Spain and benefit from the best conditions offered by clubs affiliated to their federation, but also they can compete with the best foreign players.

Imagine the return of some Spanish organizers and players when they see this decision in France. What image do you give to our partners, sponsors and to Europe with this closure of our border?

I understand the desire of the FFT to make an investment in favor of French players. But then why not do it directly, via compensation for transport costs, or a prize monay for the French who go the furthest in the table?

Anything that is prohibited bothers me. Was this decision taken after consultation with all clubs, including host clubs? Clubs must have spinoffs. If they do not have foreign players, it is for the club a lack of communication, search for sponsors and interest for members, in one sentence a loss of earnings for the club ...

Padel, an individual sport

A champion is someone very individualistic. In any case in general. And padel is perhaps the most individual team sport there is.

Gaby Reca (5 times world champions and coach in Madrid)) is selectable for the France team. He is available. Has he received an invitation or a proposal from the France team to help the France team develop? Who could have prevented such a return to protect its function. Because Gaby has already been the coach of the French teams.

The collective interest does not exist for the moment.

If I am one of the best French players and I am told that foreigners are forbidden, maybe I would approve as a player because that would give me more chances to win the event. The short-term interest of our athletes is no guarantee of success for the future. And padel is no exception.

The FFT could open!

This regulation of the FFT, if it were to take place, should have been done more generally through the intervention of the FIP. Better coordination with all the federations. Because in the end we close our borders. And even if the players have their say, it is also and above all up to the authorities to decide.

Moreover, this decision actually concerns very few foreign players. This decision of the FFT could be criticized by the FEPA and the FIP.

If we think in a more individual way, this decision can perhaps harm French players abroad.

Padel in the coming years

The national Padel agency in France and a strong FIP.

I remain optimistic for French padel, because being able to rely on a foundation as solid as the FFT is an asset and the latter is beginning to understand that we cannot apply to padel the same recipes as those of tennis. In my opinion, we should create an independent padel agency within the FFT and provide it with a budget over 8 years.

This structure would be administered by people who have proven themselves in all areas of padel and by qualified people from abroad when skills are lacking at the national level. The roadmap approved by the FFT, the national padel agency would be responsible and if the objectives are not achieved its members would be responsible.

But we are not there yet even if the private sectors, federations, competition organizers are getting closer.

I enjoy talking to high quality interlocutors such as the President of the FIP, Luigi Carraro or the Mr. Padel of the FFT Hubert Picquier or Philippe Sassier the guarantor of the moral values ​​of padel and Cécilia Huet the president of the Federation Monegasque Padel or Kevin Tournemire and Alain Henry the presidents of the Association of Private Clubs and with male and female players and managers of large companies that support our sport; everyone has a presentiment that the next 2 years will be crucial for the setting up of the world operation of Padel.

In a few days, we will have some great announcements to make that go in the common direction: one for all, all for one.

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Franck Binisti

Franck Binisti discovers the padel at the Pyramid Club in 2009 in the Paris region. Since then padel is part of his life. You often see him touring France by going to cover the big French paddle events.