Natekar Sports and Gaming (NSG), a company owned and promoted by former Indian tennis star Gaurav Natekar, is launching World Pickleball League. Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI) has come on board as a strategic investor.

Pickleball, a racquet sport, has been gaining mainstream status since the pandemic in many countries, especially the US. It combines elements of table tennis, badminton, and tennis and can be played indoors in singles or doubles on a court.

Gaurav Natekar, Founder and CEO, Natekar Sports and Gaming told businessline, “Pickleball has emerged as one of the fastest growing sports in recent times.

“It is easy to play, requires very little space and investments to build courts. It is being played in over 80 countries now and offers huge potential.”

While Natekar Sports and Gaming will own the majority stake in the league, SETVI will be own a minority stake as a strategic and financial investor, he added. The league will consist of six franchises, each featuring 6 to 8 players including both international and Indian players.

“We are planning to invest about $10 million over the next 3-5 years in India and APAC countries. We are in advanced talks with potential franchises. We believe the league will serve as a platform to promote the sport as well as for brands who are looking to invest in new age sports. We look at it as an athleisure event as Pickleball is all about building communities. We are working in close collaboration with the All India Pickleball Federation,” Natekar added.

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The World Pickleball League aims to reach over 30 million households, per a statement.

“We are looking to hold the first event either by the end of the year or early next year,” he added.

The All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) is the governing body of Pickleball in India. According to the AIPA, pickleball is played in at least 18 States with 8,000 registered players and close to thirty-five thousand amateur players.

“Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI) is committed to supporting innovative sports ventures. Our partnership with Natekar Sports and Gaming to launch the first-ever professional global pickleball league marks a significant step toward creating new opportunities in the sports industry,“ said Nachiket Pantvaidya, CEO, SETVI, in a statement.