As an amateur gamer padel, we often dream, behind our television set, of becoming a professional and making a living from our passion. We want the pros, their career padelistic, their technique... Sometimes, we secretly hope to have the sufficient level to be like them and to play in the most prestigious world tournaments.
However, behind the euphoria, the spectacle, the thrills, sometimes hides a slightly darker truth. Behind the stars, like Galan or Salazar, we find players who play very well but who are very far in the ranking, and in terms of standard of living…
These players are often forced to play the previas, sometimes manage to qualify for the first round, can achieve a feat by winning the second, but behind these performances are difficult to repeat. At least, these rare successes sometimes leave lifelong memories.
We also have the young nuggets... those who arrive in an already established world, with excellent, almost unplayable players. These young people, starting with FIP tournaments, are sometimes forced to move to an academy in another country.
In short, the painting is a dream but we easily forget all the work put in behind it... as well as all the sacrifices.
Prize money in big tournaments: differences in prize money
The financial aspect is crucial for players, new or veterans of the circuit. With the media coverage of padel, prize money has soared in recent years. On the World Padel Tour, in 2023, it is no less than 16 million which were paid to the players, distributed over the 24 tournaments which took place.
Au Greenweez Premier Padel Paris Major (one of the four Majors), each category benefited from an allocation of €525.000, or a little more of one million euros in total. The winners received 47.250 €, enough to make the trip profitable.
Behind these high sums, granted to the best pairs, the winnings of the pairs eliminated in the first round are much lower. Let us remember that Stupaczuk and Di Nenno were eliminated as soon as they entered the fray. They will have “only” touched €2 for this tournament.
So, for players of their level, obviously, this poor performance will have no financial impact. But for lower ranked players who lose in the first round, the €1 does not necessarily cover the costs incurred. And we're talking about the four best-funded tournaments in the world! For the others, it is better not to lose in qualifying or even in the first round…
Sponsors, a key element
In the padel, sponsors have a crucial place in the lives of athletes. The money they provide to the players allows them to pay for hotels, plane tickets, training, food, and registration fees.
To register for FIP Rise of Bourg-en-Bresse last season, you had to pay €30. To FIP Promotion Melbourne, it is $80 Australian, or approximately 50€. Multiply sums like this by four for players who register every weekend and you have a little over €1 that goes away every year. Not much you might say, but when all your expenses are counted…
In the latest Australian example, the prize money was only 5 000 euros for both categories (men and women). You understand that between the price of the hotel, flights and food expenses, very few came out positive from this competition. It is also easy to see why the vast majority of players entered in the two Australian tournaments at the start of the year (FIP Rise Sydney and FIP Promotion Melbourne) came… from Australia!
It is at this precise moment that sponsors take a crucial place because they help competitors to cover part of these expenses. Suffice to say that for the players, it is an aid not to be neglected, as pointed out Isaac Huysveld, young promise of padel Belgian.
“If you want to become a professional, you have to have money”
Let’s go back to Isaac’s interview for a moment. At 17 years old, its potential is already promising. We regularly meet him at FIP tournaments and he also participated in the Junior World Championships in Paraguay.
This young Belgian player told us about his passion for padel, but also, all the difficulties encountered since its beginnings. He explained, in his own words, that without basic money, you could not become a professional:
"Everything is at my expense. And even though I have sponsors who pay for certain things, nothing is free. Today, if you want to become a professional, you have to have money, because if you don't have the income behind it, you can't do anything."
A sport reserved for the elite?
This example recalls that of tennis, where young hopefuls pay enormous sums, whichthey will not pay off at the end of the year. To padel, we notice the same thing. Travel is expensive, as are registrations.
Therefore the padel Would it be a sport reserved for the elite? For players with immense talent, directly qualified in the final draws of major tournaments, no need to worry, but for players who are a little less good, you will have to put your hand in your pocket.
Ben Tison recently said, in an interview in Le Parisien, that being professional at padel, "it's survival“. The one who reigned over the padel Frenchman for years confessed that he met significant difficulties during its debut: “My first year on the circuit, I didn't win any money.” Its biggest prize money career in a single tournament? 3 euros, won in Milan this winter.
So, should we really envy professional gamers? padel ? For the stars of padel global, certainly, but for others it is far from obvious, given all the difficulties they encounter throughout their career...
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