2021 Year End Summary

The following summary was sent to all WPF Member Countries in December 2021

Rif spent the back end of 2020 and early 2021 preparing for his 3,000 mile ride across America (San Diego California to St Augustine Florida in 45 days.  This was to raise funds to create the Pickleball Hall of Fame museum which is located at the Austin Pickle Ranch, the venue for the World Pickleball Games, giving every participating country the opportunity to visit the museum.  Rif raised an amazing $65,000.  We should not forget that Rif was 70 years old and younger men haven’t successfully completed this particular bike ride – it is a brutal one.  This bike ride reduced the amount of time Rif could spend on WPF activities but it was in aid of pickleball.

We were hoping that the turn of 2021 would see covid in the rear-view mirror.  Sadly, that was not the case.  Some countries were affected more than others but since Associations’ income is often driven by events, the lack of travel between countries affected most.  We sadly had to make the hard decision to postpone the World Pickleball Games to 2023.  At the time there were some that thought we were being too pessimistic but as we close the year with the Omicron variant spreading fast, and countries closing borders again, we know that we have made the right call.  It also gives countries a longer runway to secure sponsors for their teams.

It had always been our intention to have our first AGM in 2022, we originally scheduled it to be at the World Pickleball Games but as we have postponed them, we announced a Save the Date for a Zoom AGM last month.  We think it is important to demonstrate that WPF is a democratic organisation and to get the input of all our members.

We created a World Pickleball Day Playbook, sharing ideas on how to capitalise on the day from around the world. This year’s World Pickleball Day was picked up by 21 countries up from 16 last year.  PickleballEngland estimate that 350 people were introduced to the game in 17 locations for WPD.  If each of the 21 countries had similar results, this day designated to grow pickleball at the grassroots is having an impact.

Thanks to Paddletek, Selkirk, Franklin,  Gamma, Onix, TMPR and Engage’s

sponsorship of World Pickleball Day, we also distributed paddles and balls to schools and deserving clubs again this year including 58 in India across 16 clubs in 6 states and 8 paddles and balls to Thailand as part of our Equipment Donation programme.

Pickleball Spain came to us with a request to support a special programme they were working on Pick4all.  After learning about the objectives and the detailed plan, we wanted to support them to bridge the funding gap they had.  We have been following their progress and are impressed with what Marc Declerq and team have achieved.  We expect to be able to share a video wrapping up the initiative in the new year and will be posted on our website.

We supported the first Indian Masters Tournament which took place at the end of November with over 300 participants.

We agreed a partnership with Pickleball Global to recognise their global rankings and to collaborate on the development of global competition structure leveraging the Pickleball Global software that is offered free of charge to countries and tournament directors.  We will reveal more about the competition structure at the AGM in January.

We welcomed 10 new country members to WPF, including 4 probationary countries taking our membership to 32.  The Board took the decision mid year to create this new probationary membership level so that not for profit organisations that don’t meet all our criteria can join.  This does not change our strict criteria, it is a recognition that we want to support these countries to help get grow to become full members eventually.

In November we held a Strategic Planning meeting to look at our long term goals and strategies to meet the goals.  We will share a summary of this with you at the AGM.

We introduced last month our Volunteer Awards.  The categories for nominations are:

  • Volunteer of the Year (an individual that is driving growth in their area/country)
  • Pickleball Growth (a club or association that is driving pickleball growth in a country)
  • Inclusion (a club or association that is demonstrating how to grow inclusive pickleball)
  • Tournament Director (volunteer, unpaid)

The deadline for nominations is 12th January, 2022.  Our members will get to vote the winners at our AGM on 22nd January, 2022.

We can’t conclude our review of 2021 without acknowledging that two of our member countries wrote to both IFP and WPF asking them to co-operate on an initiative to achieve just one world governing body.  Rif shared with you his receptive response and explanation of why WPF was created in the first place.  Early 2019 the IFP looked very different to today.  WPF believes that it is having some competition that ‘kickstarted’ IFP to do more.  We still don’t think that IFP is an independent, democratic organisation.  They are controlled by the USA and their bylaws confers control by the organisation rather than the members.  Their recent announcement of holding an AGM early in 2022 is an interesting development.  We do hope that countries take the time to have a representative attend both our AGM and IFP’s AGM.

Finally, one of WPF’s objectives is to share best practices and we want to encourage countries to share their best practices.  Our Christmas gift to you today is an example of best practice.  PickleballEngland (pbE) introduced a Pickleball Leaders Certification course earlier this year.  It was designed to ensure that the people that welcome new players and teach them how to play, have been formally trained to do so.  It is a low cost 5-6 hour course.  The course was originally developed by Elaine Shallcross, the North West Regional Director for pbE and refined for rollout across the country.  Elaine and pbE have kindly agreed to share the documentation for this course with WPF Member Countries.  pbE have already started to reap the rewards of introducing this course as the Pickleball Leaders go away from the training fired up to share their knowledge with new players and often the attendees go on to start new clubs.  If you have a best practice you would like to showcase to other countries, please let us know.

Wishing you all the very best of the season. 

WPF Board of Directors

2020 Year End Summary

WPF is just 2 years old but we have been very productive.  If you would like to read about our activities and how we have supported our member countries, take a look at our 2020 summary.