World Pickleball League gets global boost as SETVI invests in Natekar Sports & Gaming initiative

SETVI's investment signifies a significant commitment to the WPBL, with plans to inject $10 million over the next 3-5 years

Natekar Sports & Gaming (NSG) has secured a strategic investment from Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI), a new-age celebrity talent business in India, to launch the World Pickleball League (WPBL).

NSG, led by former Indian tennis star Gaurav Natekar, has secured the investment from SETVI, a joint venture between Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment. This collaboration leverages SETVI’s expertise in media and entertainment to elevate the WPBL’s appeal to international audiences.

SETVI’s investment signifies a significant commitment to the WPBL, with plans to inject $10 million over the next three to five years. These funds will directly support the league’s launch and fuel the development of pickleball throughout India and Asia.

The agreement includes a ten-year multi-country licencing deal with the All India Pickleball Association (AIPA), affiliated with the International Pickleball Federation (IPF). This partnership positions the WPBL to cultivate the sport at all levels, from grassroots development to the professional arena, with a specific focus on Asian markets.

Gaurav Natekar, Founder and CEO – Natekar Sports and Gaming (NSG), commented, “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”

Arvind Prabhoo, President of the All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) and International Pickleball Federation (IPF), said, “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.”

Emphasizing 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.”

AIPA, which was established in 2008, organises tournaments, conducts coaching camps, and works towards gaining recognition for pickleball from the Indian government. Pickleball is played in more than 18 states in the nation at the moment, with more than 10,000 registered players.

The inaugural season of the global pickleball league will be structured around six franchises, each housing a roster of six to eight players. These rosters will strategically combine established international talents with promising Indian athletes. Further enriching the player pool, each franchise will integrate junior players into their training regimens. The league’s commitment extends beyond the professional level. Through collaborative efforts with franchise ownership, the league will establish tournaments within each team’s home city.

Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI) aims to support and develop media talent in India. SETVI helps talented individuals by providing investment opportunities, partnerships, and even exploring the world of metaverse solutions for them.

Played on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net, pickleball offers a unique combination of strategy and fun. This easy-to-learn yet challenging sport has garnered over five million players worldwide, and its popularity keeps climbing. Even celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Selena Gomez, Emma Watson and renowned tennis stars like Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, John McEnroe, Maria Sharapova, and Andy Roddick have been spotted enjoying the game, adding to its growing allure.

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