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Natekar Sports & Gaming and SETVI to invest over $10 millon for World Pickleball League

The investment in India and APAC countries is set to take over the next 3-5 years, marking the start of a new era in sports.

Natekar Sports and Gaming (NSG), a company owned and promoted by former India number 1 Tennis star and Arjuna Awardee, Gaurav Natekar today announced the World Pickleball League, a global professional pickleball league.

The league is backed by Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI), a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment, a unique official cross-corporation for Sony Group in India.

NSG will look to invest over $10 million over the next 3-5 years in India and the APAC countries thereby heralding the dawn of a new era for the sport. The league is poised to also propel pickleball into the international spotlight, offering a fusion of sports, fun and entertainment that will captivate players, brands, and fans alike, worldwide.

Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of table tennis, badminton, and tennis and can be played indoors in singles or doubles on a court. With over five million players across 84 countries, pickleball is one of the growing sports in the world, known for its accessibility and appeal to all ages ranging from 5 to 70 years old.

With a multi-country licencing agreement of ten years with the All India Pickleball Association (AIPA), affiliated with the International Pickleball Federation (IPF), the world pickleball league is a major step towards the international expansion of pickleball, with plans to develop the sport bottom up, from grassroots to professional and competitive levels.

NSG, through its leadership role in promoting and professionalising pickleball in India, strives to break down age and gender barriers to encourage people across all demographics to participate. Leveraging NSG's expertise, the World Pickleball League aims to reach over 30 million households and engage middle- and upper-middle-class segments across the country to harness the social and community-building aspects of pickleball, making it a popular athleisure activity that brings people together.

"With the launch of the World Pickleball League, our vision is to unite key stakeholders, ensuring its resounding success and leaving a lasting legacy for the sport. Through close collaboration with the All India Pickleball Federation, our vision is to cultivate the sport from the grassroots, leveraging the league as a springboard and platform to grow the game across the length and breadth of the country. With the game being played in over 80 countries, we want the league to serve as a catalyst for promoting pickleball and enticing more individuals to embrace the sport along with also offering a coveted platform for brands in India and overseas seeking opportunities in New Age sports investment that is being lapped internationally. By captivating the interest of this burgeoning generation of sports enthusiasts, we anticipate driving unprecedented growth for brands, consumers, and the public at large for Pickleball in India" commented Gaurav Natekar, founder and CEO - Natekar Sports and Gaming (NSG).

The All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) is the governing body of Pickleball in India, functioning as a non-profit organisation and providing support to other national and local pickleball organisations.

According to the AIPA, pickleball is played in at least 18 states in the nation at the moment with 8,000 registered players and close to thirty-five thousand amateur players playing the game which is projected to reach the one million mark in the next five years.

“The All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) is dedicated to supporting the growth of the sport and by partnering with the first-ever professional pickleball league, we aim to create more opportunities for players and create a thriving community of pickleball enthusiasts. We believe this league will help cultivate future pickleball stars and drive the sport's development from the grassroots to the professional level,” said Arvind Prabhoo, president, All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) and International Pickleball Federation (IPF).

SETVI is an entertainment company dedicated to creating ventures for media talent in India. By offering technical support and strategic investment, SETVI will leverage its expertise to incorporate innovative technologies and increase the league's appeal.

Emphasising their commitment to promoting pickleball globally with this league, Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO of Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI) stated, “Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI) is committed to supporting innovative sports ventures. Our partnership with Natekar Sports & Gaming to launch the first-ever professional global pickleball league marks a significant step toward creating new opportunities in the sports industry. Through this league, we aim to fuel the growth of this new age sport and extend its reach among the global audience. We are thrilled to embark on this journey, which not only advances pickleball but also promotes health, fitness, and inclusivity through sports.”

The inaugural global pickleball league will consist of six franchises, each featuring 6 to 8 players, comprising a mix of leading international players from all over the world and Indian talent.

To encourage the growth of emerging players, each franchise will also have junior players who will practise, travel, and train alongside the professional players. This initiative aims to provide young Indian athletes with valuable exposure to the highest levels of pickleball competition, helping to develop the sport's next generation of stars.

Additionally, the league plans to work closely with franchise owners to conduct tournaments in the cities where their teams are based and help the teams increase their brand visibility within local communities.

It is worth noting that global celebrities including artists Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Selena Gomez, Emma Watson, alongside former tennis legends such as Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, John McEnroe, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick and Serena Williams have been spotted endorsing and playing the game.

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