You’ve heard of football, netball and maybe even korfball, but pickleball is the new fully-inclusive sporting phenomenon set to sweep across Thornbury – with local residents opening the town’s first-ever Pickleball Club.
Originating from Washington USA, pickleball has become increasingly popular in recent years. In the USA there are now over three million players and the trend has recently spread to the UK, with around 1000 Brits now participating in the sport. However, the majority of people have still never heard of it.
Like tennis, pickleball can be played as both a singles and doubles game with the court layout and rules remaining the same in both instances. As with badminton, pickleball is played to eleven and must be won by two points. The game is played with a ball – or wiffle – and paddles, much like table tennis, so the sport is not as unfamiliar as you might think. It combines some of the world’s best-loved racket sports and puts them all together into one game.
Pickleball is currently most popular amongst the over 55s – largely due to the health and social benefits involved. While quick and easy to learn, finding a club in the UK can be somewhat challenging – with only one existing club in the surrounding area.
It was for this reason that Thornbury residents and seasoned pickleball players, Kathy Blannin and Andy Horrell, decided to set up the Thornbury Pickleball Club. After winning medals at the first English Open tournament held in Nottingham last year, they felt there was a strong opportunity for them to get more people involved in the sport.
Of the new club, Kathy said: “Andy and I have been playing pickleball for a while now and after picking up our medals last year, we realised how much we wanted to bring something new to the area, giving people across Thornbury and the wider South Gloucestershire area the opportunity to play this fantastic, social sport.”
Thornbury Active Lifestyle Centre, the venue where Kathy and Andy have chosen to host the club, have been very supportive of the couple’s efforts and have invested in some equipment which will support the Thornbury Pickleball Club for years to come.
Centre Manager at Thornbury Active Lifestyle Centre, Frances Snell, added: “Sport and exercise are all about having fun, keeping fit and building a sense of community – and Thornbury Pickleball Club perfectly embodies this spirit. It’s always great to get involved with new sporting and community projects and are we very excited to be a part of this new venture.”
Thornbury Pickleball Club is currently adults-only and offers free introductory tuition for new players. They meet at Thornbury Lifestyle Centre on Monday evenings, with further ad-hoc sessions being held throughout the week.
Thornbury Active Lifestyle Centre is one of five lifestyle centres operated across South Gloucestershire by the not for profit organisation Circadian Trust.
To find out more about the Centre, please visit: https://activecentres.org/centres/thornbury/