If you follow the padel French, this will certainly not have escaped you: the French Interclub Championships of Nationale 1 of padel increasingly resemble those of tennis, with clubs not hesitating to pay players to form a competitive team. A good or bad thing?
An arms race
Basically, we saw the French National 1 Championships as a means offered to French players to represent their favorite club and to compete through a friendly competition, with a little parochial spirit, so dear to sport. amateur. But just two years after their creation, the Interclubs have completely changed dimension and are more akin to an arms race.
This was already somewhat the case last season, with French players joining clubs very far from their place of residence or with which they had no ties and Spaniards starting to strengthen the teams. It must be said that for semi-pros of padel, the ticket that can be offered by certain clubs for Interclubs is something to think about. Indeed, travel, hotels and training represent enormous expenses for players who are not part of the elite of the league. padel world, and according to our sources, many people have difficulty making ends meet on the FIP Tour. But this year, the teams should be even more equipped with names like Osoro or Ayats already mentioned.
In other words, rivalries between clubs and players wanting to represent their region or their favorite club are more or less over. And this despite what some may say, like Teo Zapata who declared a month ago that All In was “a group of friends”, but who could wear the colors of another team in 2024…
What return on investment?
Concretely, what do these clubs have that pay players to win? Hard to say. The French National 1 Championships are a competition which is played over a weekend, in a club, in front of a necessarily small audience, and which gives no financial reward. We are far from the glitter of professional tournaments. However, some clubs absolutely want to shine during this competition and make people talk about them. What return on investment can they expect?
Some believe that by bringing foreigners into their team and recruiting members of the French team, they allow the public to see players of superior quality and thus raise the level, promote the activity and potentially give rise to vocations. In addition, via the media coverage assumed by a victory during this competition, their center benefits from a certain publicity boost. But is one weekend enough to achieve these results?
Difficult to say again. In Spain and Italy, we found the stars of padel world in Interclubs in recent years, yet these competitions, organized in clubs, and therefore not benefiting from perfect television coverage, have not been particularly followed. Among our friends on the Iberian Peninsula, due in particular to a very busy schedule, the best were absent from the 2023 edition, but it is rumored that they could make their return this year. If the clubs continue to enlist the services of the elite of the padel world, is that they certainly find at least a little interest in it…
Could we one day see Coello, Tapia, Lebron or even Galan at the Interclubs in France? This would at least have the merit of taking the competition to a whole new dimension in terms of media.
Should we take action?
In any case, in order to really raise the level in France, the players present at the Interclubs would need to participate in other competitions during the year. A measure requested by some fans would be to authorize participation in Interclubs only to players who have played a certain number of tournaments in France. Thus, to be able to play the French National 1 Championships, the Spaniards and other players of the French team would have to travel to France several times during the season, to play P2000 or P1500 for example.
Simply banning foreigners from this Championship seems contrary to the Bosman ruling with regard to Spaniards and could therefore be challenged before the European Court. In rugby, there are nevertheless mechanisms aimed at favoring national players, it could therefore be that the padel is inspired by this, by forcing clubs to have a minimum of French players in their teams. For example, the FFT could require clubs to have at least as many French players as foreign players in their teams. But would that really change anything for those who would like to see real rivalries between local players?
Today, one thing is certain, in the microcosm of padel French people talk a lot about Interclubs and the presence of high-level players and foreigners. The big names announced in certain clubs have the merit of getting people to react and talk about our sport, that’s something that we can’t take away from them.
Among the fans, some are more conservative and would prefer to see local players fight for their favorite jersey, while others already dream of seeing the stars of the padel world to wear the colors of their team and compete in a French club for a weekend. And you, how would you like to see the French Interclub Championships evolve?
Xan is a fan of padel. But also rugby! And his posts are just as punchy. Physical trainer of several padel, he unearths atypical posts or deals with topical subjects. It also gives you some tips to develop your physique for the padel. Clearly, he imposes his offensive style as on the field of padel !