2018 has ended with lots of unforgettable memories and one exceptional fact: Padel is now being played in more than 100 clubs in Belgium! And the perpectives for 2019 are exciting. Let’s take a look at this unique year of 2018.
In Belgium, Padel is structured and growing at regional level. On the french speaking side, the association of AFPadel with AFTennis, end 2017, has brought great results, offering many new possibilities, building on the strenghts of both parties, ensuring a well structured growth of Padel while preserving its specificities, identity and DNA as a sport of its own. Keep going! On the flemish speaking side, the evolution has been impressive with a development and qualitative approach all over Flanders. The institutional aspect on the north side of Belgium is still an issue to be solved, and hopefully soon, so Padel can keep growing peacefully and effectively nationwide. I would like to mention Philippe Cerfont, Pierre Delahaye, André Stein, Laurent Jeuniaux, Lionel Renard, Bernard Simon, Jerome Lourette, Jean-Pierre Alvarez, Jean D’havé, Geoffroy Debelle, Julie Gilian, Cécile Parent and Patrick Leclerc on the FR side, and Nick Braet, Jana Bonnarens, Jan, Erik, Valentijn Pattyn, Gijs and Jessie Brouwers-Mortreux on the NL side. Thank you for your personal involvement, for organizing the federations and for your great relations with all the padel clubs and players. Also, a big thank you to all official authorities and their representatives in Belgium for supporting our sport via various resources and recognitions.
At National level, let’s first mention and congratulate the winners of the Belgian Padel Championships Guillaume Crasson and Gardier Francois (June 2018), and more recently the winners of the Masters of the Belgian Padel Tour Laurent Montoisy and Alec Witmeur (December 2018). Our national competitions are slowly but surely gathering more and more people and the level is growing tremendously. For the national interclubs, the RTC Liège Padel Club won the national final for the second year in a row (September 2018).
At International level, 2018 was full of suprises. First, an astonishing FIP500 was organized at Padel 4U2 Gent in Gentbrugge (May 2018) with players coming from all over the world with even some Top20. Congrats to Fanny, Jean, Nick, Jana, Jan, Patrick and Tine. A few weeks later, for the second time, a very hot World Padel Tour Exhibition was organized in Belgium and this time at the PRIMEROSE TENNIS CLUB BATD in Brussels (July 2018) welcoming the best players in the World. Thanks Philippe Werts and partners Karine Biver, Vincent Laureyssens and Padel Events for this great event. Later, for the first time, we had a Veteran Team (women and men) participating to a Senior World Padel Championships (October 2018). Congrats to Fanny Gimenez and Stephane Schoofs, for organizing everything and leading this project to a success. More than 32 players represented Belgium in Estepona, Spain, bringing back home great results and memories to share. Finally, it was the turn of our National team (women and men) to fly to Paraguay for the World Padel Championships (November 2018). After a long and difficult adventurous trip, they could manage to stay all focused on their game and achieve an amazing performance (8th place for the men, 11th place for the women) and enjoy this great championships with the very welcoming people of the city of Asuncion. Congrats to all players for their behaviours as great Belgium ambassadors. A special thanks to Laura Bernard and Gardier Francois for their effective and difficult role as players, captains and coachs at the same time. Wonderful achievement also for Helena Wyckaert Padel who was ranked 79th in the WPT end december. And of course let’s thank the various partners/industries supporting us Setteo, Color13 Factory, Wilson, and all business actors helping us directly and indirectly develop Padel in Belgium.
If we can operate at National level, it is also thanks to an international structure which is also evolving and has welcomed changes in 2018. Let’s first thank Daniel Patti for its 6 years of great FIP – International Padel Federation presidency contributing to the big international boost of Padel, and wish the very best to our new FIP president Luigi Carraro, who is now facing great challenges and projects surrounded by motivated and talented people, demanding but contributing national federations and a mature padel industry and market in the starting blocks for great partnerships.
Now, last but not least, most sport clubs can also be alive thanks to all the volunteers giving their time and energy to animate and organize activities. You are amazing. Thank you.
In 2019, together let’s keep on building and enjoying the game of Padel.
Happy New Year 2019.