Padel continues to grow internationally but this development is taking place very differently in each country, depending on the actors involved and the characteristics of the countries. We wanted to offer a very detailed view of the growth of padel in France, a world power and that over time should also be in the world of padel.
Stéphane Berrafato, recently appointed head of padel of the FFT (Fédération Française de Tennis), Franck Binisti, editor-in-chief of Padel Magazine, leading publication on paddle in France and two Spanish companies such as Cartri and Nox, which has an external vision but with market in France, they have given us their points of view, accompanied by data that will make the course of padel in the Gallic country much clearer.
Stéphane Berrafato, assures us that the padel is developing more and more in France, with 590 courts at present, spread over 263 clubs (at the beginning of 2015, when FFT took over the padel with some 60 courts throughout the country. ..). The Federation subsidizes ADCP projects (Development and practice of clubs) and more than 22% of these development projects concern the padel and has dedicated, in 2018 and 2019, no less than 9.2 million euros to support the clubs. “Today there are between 50,000 and 60,000 practitioners, 7,000 of them federated. Numbers in constant increase “. In addition, the Federation has launched its first FFT PADEL TOUR, which combines initiation in this sport, entertainment and competitions. Tournaments are planned in the urban centers of the cities to make padel known to as many people as possible. The new sponsors are also interested in this sport, since Padel Point and Wilson have signed an agreement with the FFT for the FFT PADEL TOUR, for a period of 3 years.
Many new features have already been launched, such as the possibility of organizing mixed tournaments, tournaments over 45 years old… France is also organizing its 1st Junior Team Championship (U18), with the aim of sending teams from France to the 2019 World Junior Championship to be held in Castellón (Valencia, Spain) from October 14 to 20. Many projects are also underway: the creation of a “TFP PADEL” (padel title with professional purpose), the creation of the qualifications of the referees, the authorization for female or mixed pairs to play in a male tournament (through classification equivalences), the creation of tournaments with very short formats, more than half a day, the creation of the Team Championships… Without mentioning the project led by our President, Bernard Giudicelli, with the creation of a National Padel Training Center, in Paris.
The goal is the establishment of 1,000 courts throughout France, in 2 years time. Every week, padel courts are built in France. And the number of practitioners increases along with these new clubs. There is no limit.
France wants, ultimately, to play a leading role in the world of Padel. For this reason, Mr. Hubert Picquier, member of the Executive Committee of the FFT, was presented and was elected (unanimously) to be part of the Board of Directors of the International Federation. “France is now represented in the Council of the FIP and intends to occupy the place that belongs to it. However, it is still modest and humble: France is today “very small” in the padel world compared to the nations that started with this sport, but we believe a lot in the development of padel into our great federation, with 7,800 clubs spread out in metropolitan France and abroad”.
Mr. Berrafato notes that padel suffered a conflict between two organizations, not recognized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which ended up entrusting the management and development of padel in France to the FFT. The Federation officially incorporated the padel in its statutes in the General Assembly of February 2015. The padel is administered by the FFT only four years ago. It is little and much at the same time. But he believes that padel can take off thanks to its many affiliated clubs, not to mention the private structures authorized by the FFT that are actively involved in the development of this magnificent sport, the “cousin” of tennis.
Franck Binisti, editor-in-chief of Padel Magazine, says there has been a worldwide phenomenon around padel in recent years. And France is one of those locomotives. Many private companies have invested in padel and have allowed the padel to be developed in France.
As for the French Tennis Federation, it is one of the most powerful sports federations in the world. Since 2018, the FFT has been investing in padel, with an elected representative in charge of its development. Padel courts are emerging everywhere.
To have a vision of the padel market in France and the companies that invest in it, you can click here.
“The padel is booming in France but there is still a lot to do, because we started from very far away, and it is not yet a popular sport known by all the society but the advantage that it has is that it is a global phenomenon and not a regional one. That´s why I think it´s not a passing fad, it becomes exponential. Even some fans want their own court. Padel becomes a trend, but it is expected to reach a more general level”.
France is a country in full development. But it is not the only nation that enjoys padel. Italy, Portugal and, of course, Sweden, are among the most developed European nations in relation to padel.
Padel Magazine is the first padel French speaking site that has achieved double-digit growth for several years, with more than 1.2 million visits from over 200,000 unique readers in 2018. “I remember the time when I was the only one French and foreigner to follow in Madrid the World Padel Tour Master. How things have evolved!”.
For Alfonso Bastida, marketing director of Nox, “the explosion of padel in France is now a reality. Although they are still far from the number of courts and licenses that we have in Spain, the growth is exponential. Every time we see more practitioners and more level, with several players that give way to the professional circuit. This trend is going to increase with several French players who will settle in Spain to try to make the leap as professionals. I hope we see a Frenchman soon fighting at the top, it would be a great boost for the padel in France and very positive for the padel in general”.
France is destined to be one of the axes of growth in exports along with Sweden and Italy in the short term. In the Barcelona brand have many expectations deposited in the neighboring country.
“It is becoming common for TV reports and national newspapers to appear. In our case, France is the third country in the EU that we export the most, behind Sweden and Italy. It has traditionally been dominated by multinationals with a strong presence in tennis. These brands have taken advantage of this advantage during the first years of padel growth. However, the French player increasingly demands brands that are specialists, with 100% padel DNA. While it is true that there are many padel brands, only a few have a structure that allows the French market to fill up while maintaining a constant investment in communication and marketing”.
“The entry as official sponsor of World Padel Tour (official racket) is also generating a lot of visibility around the world and of course in France as more and more fans are following the professional circuit. We noticed it in the interest of retailers in Nox”.
“Our commitment to France is decisive. Good example of this is the fact that in recent months we have incorporated several players, among which we would highlight Adrien Maigret and Benjamin Tison, currently the number 2 of France. Neither do we forget the female padel. We have recently incorporated Léa Godallier, current number 4 of the French ranking and who has already played several WPT circuit tests this season. The reason for these players is simple: they are great professionals and athletes who feel the brand as their own. And of course: they are very good”.
Alliance Padel, the distribution brand of Cartri in France, points out a series of characteristics of the state of padel in France. They coincide in highlighting the great development of our sport.
The increase of built courts leads to an increase in the market although even today many of these courts are built in tennis clubs and the vast majority of these are public. The construction of only padel and private clubs does not keep pace with other fast-growing countries in Europe, such as Sweden.
The evolution that they expect, it happens through a greater protagonism of private clubs and with it, of new and alternative brands that are introduced in the French market. The pro shop of private clubs usually have a greater variety of brands and products.
In all certainty, the development of padel at the level of minors will be one of the entry routes for Cartri, who in Spain exercises a privileged position in the padel training both at the club and competition level.