Jersey: the padel haven doing it for the kids
Jersey – the largest of the Channel Islands and the sun-kissed meeting point of British and French cultures famed for its historic castles, Second World War tunnel complex and stunning cliffside scenery. And now it is gaining a name for itself as a padel haven. RJ Mitchell reports
Thanks to the aptly named Island Padel, a five court pay-and-play complex opened in St Saviour last June and has already built a community of 2,000 active members from a total island population of just over 100,000 people – making roughly one in every 50 residents a padel player.
Within months of opening, Island Padel held an LTA Grade One event with prize money of £4,000 with a follow-up planned for September with a prize pot of £6,000. The recent creation of the club’s ‘Padel Pad’ chalet facility has provided the opportunity to socialise with padel pals and purchase Adidas equipment.
Yet what makes Island Padel different is the creation of a not-for-profit initiative – Padel For All, which funds a junior programme that has seen more than 1,000 children pick up a padel racket for the first time and is also now in-turn being further boosted by revenue from the new Padel Pad.
Speaking exclusively with The Bandeja, Island Padel’s co-founder Scott Clayton is rightly proud of a commercial development that has altruism and community spirit at its heart. He said: “The inspiration for Island Padel came from playing socially. We fell in love with padel and what it can do for people. The passion grew from there. What was also very important to myself and Morgan (Jubb, Island Padel’s co-founder) was that we wanted it to be a community driven project, we didn’t want elitism and really wanted it open to the community on a pay-and-play basis.
“We run a big junior programme and started Padel For All, our non-profit project, to help fund this and the summer camps we ran in the holidays with junior group coaching sessions, which are fully subscribed.
“Padel is a sport that caters for everyone, whether kids or older people, it is totally accessible and inclusive. With our kids we start at five years. If you take the 600 children we had on the schools programme, plus the other initiatives we have on the go, then we are talking about 1,000 children playing padel last year. That is something we are very proud of and now it is benefitting from the Padel Pad, with revenue from it going towards our non-profit organisation which puts children through the schools programme,” added Scott.
Padel is such a social sport and people were playing and then leaving as there was nowhere to socialise. So we created the Padel Pad.
Scott, a former Wimbledon men’s doubles tennis ace who reached a career-high doubles ranking of World No 107, has little doubt that the pay-and-play model underpinning Island Padel has been the key to the impressive momentum his facility has built. He explained: “We don’t have membership but our registration is at around 2,000 people. For an island of 105,000 that is not too bad. Of the 2,000 we have a base of regular players of around 500. We run four leagues a year which are really well supported – the last time I spoke to the LTA we were the biggest league in GB. It consisted of 180 people and continues to grow. We also run a corporate league three times a year which we have had to cap at 24 companies.
With Island Padel’s coaching staff trained by internationally renowned Mauri Andrini, the founder of Hello Padel Academy, Scott has no doubt this has been another key part of his venue’s success: “Mauri has been absolutely fantastic for us and to have that relationship with him where he comes to the island regularly is hugely positive. He knows all there is to know about padel and his passion and enthusiasm for the sport is amazing. For our coaches to be trained by the best means we can then provide the best experience but at the same time he is just a great guy to get advice from.”
When it came to the creation of the new Padel Pad, Scott said: “Padel is such a social sport and people were playing and then leaving as there was nowhere to socialise afterwards. So we created the Padel Pad. We are supported by Adidas so you can purchase its equipment too. This provides more support for the local community and an extra revenue stream towards Padel For All.” 🎾