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I played the sport loved by Jurgen Klopp and Virgil van Dijk – and couldn’t get enough of it

ByReport2

Nov 16, 2023

I was invited down to Liverpool Cricket club to try out their new state-of-the-art padel courts – a sport that has been endorsed by Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk and manager Jurgen Klopp.

Padel is widely considered to be the fastest growing sport in the world. It is a racket sport that combines elements of tennis and squash. It is a fun, sociable and very accessible game as players of all ages and abilities will get the basics of the game within the first half an hour of playing.

In partnership with investors Game4Padel and We Do Tennis C.I.C, three brand new courts have been constructed on the Aigburth based-club’s grounds with the hope that they can be the catalysts for the globally popular sport to take off in Liverpool.

As Storm Ciaran battered the North West, it would take a lot more than that to damage the spirits of those at Liverpool Cricket Club on a day of celebration as Liverpool legend Sammy Lee cut the ribbon to the courts, concluding a long two-year process.

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Sammy Lee opened the new courts at Liverpool Cricket Club

The torrential rain held out long enough for members of the club, alongside Vincent Hivert, Game4Padel’s growth & participation director, and I to be the first to grace the sandy turf.

We were taught the basic rules and techniques to begin the game – and it’s clear as day as to why this sport is so popular globally, as it is incredibly easy to pick up and become accustomed to. Padel requires less skill than traditional tennis would and other than football, it is by far the sport I have had the most fun playing.

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In such a short space of time everyone was able to understand the rules of the game and already make gradual improvements. Our rallies went from not being able to return shots to minutes going by of back-and-forth competitiveness.

The light rackets and ability to hit the ball more wildly and with less care is a very exciting prospect. Being able to hit the ball off the walls leads to a sense of unpredictability, which left us all thoroughly enjoying ourselves and praying the weather held off to allow us to keep playing.

Hivert, who has been playing padel for 22 years and even represented France at the Junior Padel World Championships in 2002, spoke about the growth of the sport and what the company's aims are.

He said: “The sport is growing with a lot more tournaments now and lots of training with a number of coaches. This is what Game4Padel is trying to introduce, a level of pathway for players to go from complete beginners to improve their game and to enjoy it whilst they do so.

“We have started a number of exciting school programs in Scotland that we are trying to produce across the country as well. The natural target audience of course is all ages and abilities as it is very easy sport to learn.”

Our reporter Jonny Lambe enjoyed his first game of padel

Van Dijk is an ambassador for the sport and has invested in Game4Padel – the company that are in partnership with Liverpool Cricket Club.

The Liverpool star said: “I first played padel in the Netherlands, and really enjoyed it. It’s fast-paced, fun and a good way to relax off the football pitch. We have padel courts at the Liverpool training ground, and I’m really pleased there are more facilities coming to the city for everyone to enjoy.”

With the courts now open to the public, the addition of modern and exciting facilities will be important for the club’s future.

Speaking at the opening, president of Liverpool Cricket Club, Alan Lawson said: “We want to take full advantage and offer these facilities not just for our private membership but for the general public as well, so I think it is great for Liverpool Cricket Club, great for Merseyside and it is great for this community.

“We know that padel is extremely popular in Europe, particularly southern Europe and we want to be the forerunner of a sport which we believe is going to take off.”

The padel courts at Liverpool Cricket Club are now open to the public and available for hire and it is a great game to play with your friends with no experience needed. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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