Eric Largeron, the Vice-President in charge of competition and padel, came back to us on many current topics during the N1 Interclubs.
Le padel and the FFT: it’s been 10 years now
“When the Ministry of Sports suggested to the Federation to include the padel in its regulations, we noted that there already existed an organization dedicated to padel. However, many clubs also offered tennis. We therefore thought it would be wise to manage the two sports jointly. We wish avoid the mistakes made by football with futsal. Our objective was to control the development of padel and supervise construction so that the tennis courts are not simply replaced by short padel, but rather that we can establish a coherent network to support this evolution. After a fairly modest start, in recent years we have seen exponential growth.”
The rise of the FFT around the padel
“The response to the evolution of padel in France is, in my opinion, to be analyzed in several phases. Initially, during the creation of the French teams, a period during which I was not present, the federation wanted to launch large-scale circuits and tournaments to allow players to compete against each other. This created a dynamic, aroused interest, and we supported these athletes wishing to participate in the circuit World Padel Tour. We took Spain as an example.
Then, to meet high demand, we focused on interclub competitions, thus promoting team spirit rather than individualism. Over the past two years, this approach has met expectations. I think that the progression of padel in France owes a lot to our best players who were able to raise the level of the game and solidify the base of practitioners which is booming today.”
The 3rd edition of Interclubs N1 from February 2 to 4
“For the 3rd edition of Nationale 1 interclub which will be held the first weekend of February in Padel Horizon, we have decided to change the calendar. THE padel High-level football is often aligned with the calendar year, but as a federation we follow a sporting calendar. Organizing a French championship in mid-December is not our habit. We are also faced with regulatory and technical constraints, because we do not always have the appropriate IT tools. We therefore had to proceed manually, which proved complex.
However, by starting with Nationale 1, we will gradually be able to integrate the other championships. The competition is tough, some clubs aim for the title for sporting and commercial reasons, because a title of French Interclub champion is highly coveted, as the All In demonstrated by winning the two titles. There are those who seek to remain among the elite and others who aspire to access it. At the beginning, we selected the 16 best teams on paper, but the game of promotions and relegations makes the competition on the slopes very competitive, which is very satisfying for us.”
There are rules that are not enforced
“We have finalized the competition guide which will need to be released earlier in the future. We make adjustments, because after having put rules in place, we look at how the terrain behaves. Some are difficult to apply, some are not even respected at all. And still with this computer problem, we cannot necessarily counter these things.
We can't monitor everything today either. What I regret, we operate a lot through denunciation, because that’s the only way we ultimately know things and are forced to readjust. It’s a shame, but we can’t do much else.”
Helping the public and private
“What we advocate is really quality. For the quality of the installations, we have implemented dimensions, and for future tracks, we have also planned much greater financial aid only for the first ones who joined the clubs, even in the private clubs.
So we have multiplied equipment budgets by two. Then we worked with the ANS, state aid, but which is a little different and has different objectives. This only concerns certain regions, you have to fulfill the specifications, it is not for everyone. You should know that the spirit of the ANS is, for example, to build cement ping-pong tables in leisure parks, to allow access to sport for the entire population, etc. It’s a bit of that spirit. But you can’t walk around a park and say, “Hey, there are windows, it’s okay, I’ll be able to play.” THE padel, This is another thing.
So, we were still lucky enough to have funding for some that allowed construction, but now we are going to continue federal development, both private and municipal, and ensure that there is uniform progression and harmonious for everyone.
Today, there is a balance that has been achieved, which has been built between municipal clubs and private clubs. Make no mistake, the private clubs that need to be supported have set up associations. It also makes it possible to regulate VAT in particular, which is completely logical. And this association allows them to have a classic affiliation like a municipal club and to be helped in the same way. We help financially with what already exists. The existing one can be a tennis club, for example, a tennis club which wants to add two tracks: it has proven itself in tennis, it wants to develop with the padel, we will help him. A private structure, but which has formed an association, already has four tracks which run well, which are often full, there too, we will help for the two additional tracks, perhaps even for the coverage, depending on this what the structure actually requires. But all private individuals who try to invest in strategic locations to apply their business plan and try to make a living from padel, initially we let them do it.”
“You should know that a tennis club, as we know it as managers, operates through an annual subscription. And in this annual contribution, there is the price of the license: the person is made redundant, it’s over. At padel, it's different. There are annual contributions for some, yes, but we must recognize that the majority of things are the ticket. So either the single ticket or the 10 ticket, for which it is not always easy to say to a person: “Get a license from the Federation because you have come 5 or 6 times, etc.”
So we do it through tournaments. We are very pleased with this development. We don't want to touch it too much, we're changing certain rules, I'll come back to that, but it's something that works well, which is very appreciated, when we see the enthusiasm of people who want to earn 10 more points on a match because it can earn them a place. We will try not to touch that. But as it is difficult for structures to issue licenses in the tradition and according to the definition of the FFT, well, we took the problem in reverse by saying: “You want to organize a lot of tournaments, it is something something that drives your structure, but in return, it is necessary that in relation to all the reservations you make, those who come regularly must belong to the Federation.” Many play the game, we put indexing in place only for the few structures that tended to organize a lot of tournaments, but not lay off anyone. It was especially them that we thought about.”
"SFor the P500, it is not the abandonment of the prize money, it is the non-obligatory prize money. It's still different, because the structures were precisely in favor of a small reward, I encourage them to continue to do it, perhaps not to the tune of €500, I recognize that, but there you have it, we must not that this sport is all about the quest for points, because there is also an event and the two best at the end perhaps deserve a little more than the 250, the 500 or the 1000 points. And I remind you that a P500, unlike the P250 and P100, will have a cut. At least, at the level of Occitanie, which is a major organizer of P500 in France, I will set up a system so that the cut is transparent, well defined, and that there are no doubtful replacements. This is a point we are keen on, because just because we relax the rules does not mean we are ready to accept everything.”
“Today, our P1000s are no longer the same as before. We had many pairs traveling all over France to play a P1000. It's over. Today we have maybe three or four very strong pairs, the others are local players. This is why we created the P1500, even if a ranking is not necessarily an absolute indicator of a player's level, you must still try to get close to it, because the ranking remains the basis.
Young people in Paraguay
“The young people were delighted with the idyllic conditions they were in: it’s the end of the world, it’s an adventure, it’s the French team jersey, it’s fabulous. However, as a representative of the federation, I am obliged to recognize that we cannot be satisfied with the results we have obtained, although deserved. The boys did their best. We probably won the decisive match which allowed us to reach fifth place.
I was a little more disappointed with the girls, but that also reflects the situation in France. Schools of padel are not taking off yet. So, to train an elite, even a young elite, you first need a solid base, and we don't have it yet. So, sixth place among the girls disappointed me a little, even if I highlight the bronze medal of Kimi and Lou in U16, who also did not lose a single team match. So, I expect better, but it’s also our fault. The young people did their best, no one gave up, the captains did their job, but for a country like France which organizes the Major at Roland-Garros, which was the real impetus of the padel French, we cannot be satisfied with fifth and sixth place, even if there are other countries which are organizing themselves, etc.”
The FIP and Premier Padel
“Clearly there will be a before and after Roland-Garros, and the Premier Padel P2 which will take place in Bordeaux next year. We lose Toulouse, but we win Bordeaux. Premier Padel did not want more tournaments in France, and I let them do their networking, of course. It is true that the appearance of Roland Garros, the emergence of Premier Padel totally shook up the cards, and in these cards, I find that we have some trump cards that we will also have to play at the right time. "
“Regarding the FIP, we have excellent relations with them. However, We have to recognize that at the organizational level and at the communication level, I think there is still progress to be made on their part."
Training and FIP
“And to give you another example, I am even disappointed that when of a school of referees and referees which was opened to graduate the best accordingly, we forgot to warn France, while we have in particular a person who quite a few fans of padel know, who referees the Major finals... School was done in mid-October, we found out afterwards. The FIP recognized its error. I have given instructions to do a reminder this week because well, indeed, with all the efforts made by our representatives, we cannot afford to stay like this.
Treat tennis and padel in the same way
“This is what makes us duplicitous in relation to tennis, even if the padel naturally is only emerging with respect to the ancestral sport of tennis, it is estimated that our French teams must be treated in the same way. A Davis Cup team, they are not going to pay for their trip to Taiwan in February. Our teams padel young people, they must be treated under the same conditions as our tennis teams. I will personally ensure that it is always like this.”
"Roland-Garros tennis resources, which are very very large due to the hard work of our employees and certain elected officials of the Federation, means that we have the means to be able to finance a Major, to be able to finance everything we do on the padel. Perhaps in the near future there will no longer be a need for this to be the case. You should know that we have reorganized the padel at the level of the Federation, it became again real direction, supported by Stephanie Cohen-Aloro, which is an old first tennis series, but like Arnaud Di Pasquale, it also fell into the padel. Not necessarily young, but she has thrown herself fully into it, and through her organizational, management and development skills, we know that she will do a very good job in this direction, and so I will leave it to her. care to come back to this specific point, she who is director of the padel to the Federation since the beginning of the month (December 2023).”
Franck Binisti discovers the padel at the Club des Pyramides in 2009 in the Paris region. Since padel is part of his life. You often see him touring France going to cover the major events of padel French.