Dear Racketlon Community,
I hope everyone has enjoyed a good festive season and new year and I hope you are all looking forward to another year on the court at tournaments wherever you are!
So much of my time and energy over the last two years has been taken up having to adapt, react and deal with the damaging impact of the covid pandemic, so I’m proud that we have still managed to stage a very active World Tour, with 10 world tour tournaments in the last 6 months including a fantastic Singles (Zurich) and Doubles (Prague) World Championships.
However, even though I’m writing this at a time when there is still much uncertainty about how covid may affect our 2022 World Tour (particularly over the next 3 or 4 months), I would actually like to take this opportunity to concentrate on another FIR priority: developing and promoting Racketlon in new places.
Racketlon is Expanding!
I think it’s vital for our community to know that all our time isn’t just spent dealing with covid problems! There are indeed plenty of other positive things happening and developing with Racketlon around the world.
So here is a small selection of the sorts of meetings, conversations and observations I have been having (in person, via Whatsapp, emails, social media and on Zoom) exploring all sorts of new opportunities to develop Racketlon, particularly outside of our traditional European base:
- The hugely successful team city league continues in Hong Kong, with hundreds of players playing team racketlon in different divisions (we also have plans and hopes to bring a world tour tournament to Hong Kong soon). Follow Hong Kong Racketlon here.
- Working closely with the Racketlon Federation of Russia and tournament director Svetlana Kasilova, we’re delighted to announce the first-ever Moscow Open this April.
- Racketlon USA has run several new local events around New York and I recently attended a meeting to discuss early plans for a possible brand new international tournament in Chicago. Follow Racketlon USA here.
- January sees the launch of a brand new Racketlon league starting in Luxembourg (with plans for the World Tour to return to Luxembourg towards the end of 2022 or 2023).
- I joined a meeting with a group of different teachers and sports coaches from Accra in Ghana, who are keen to set up an Association and a Racketlon Club in different sports clubs around Accra (each club having facilities for all 4 racketlon sports).
- A regular local Racketlon club will re-start this year at the brand new Mysen Rackethall in Norway with plans for a possible Challenger later in the year.
- We are actively helping the Racketlon Federation in Hungary re-start their activities with a new team who have exciting plans to begin more local Racketlon activities and to bring the world tour back to Hungary once again.
- With a growing, active scene and several regular tournaments throughout the year, Racketlon New Zealand is developing things nicely and we really hope to maybe welcome an NZ team at this year’s world champs. (It’s a great feeling that as I write this in the middle of a cold European winter, the Gisborne Open Racketlon is taking place in New Zealand!). Follow Racketlon New Zealand here.
- We continue to work closely with Racketlon India Sports Association (RISA), who have started local tournaments in some of the amazing clubs in and around Mumbai and who continue to explore many other opportunities around the country. One such opportunity is for the FIR & RISA to deliver a training camp weekend and Racketlon Open Day in Delhi to the Heads of Sport from several of India’s leading universities – an amazing opportunity with huge potential for our sport. Follow RISA here.
- At the end of 2021, we staged the first-ever tournament in Dubai which saw a selection of some of our best, elite players compete in some of the strongest men and women’s elite draws for a long time. It was a fantastic experience for all involved and we now hope to develop plans to hold an annual World Tour Finals at the end of every season in Dubai starting in 2022 – details to be announced soon.
Even through these very difficult times, our sport is without any doubt still managing to expand and grow into new areas. New clubs, new leagues and new tournaments are beginning to appear in many new towns, cities, clubs and countries. This is an exciting time for our sport.
As always, our social media activity is key to continuing the growing awareness of Racketlon around the world and it is this increased awareness that opens up many of the exciting opportunities listed above. Please continue to support, share and engage with all the FIR media channels!
Future of the World Tour
I’m very keen that over the next few years we can expand our World Tour so that we can see more tournaments in more places around the world, with a priority to develop Challengers, IWT and SWT tournaments in new places outside of our traditional European countries.
It’s vital that new players emerging in places like New Zealand, Hong Kong, India and the US are able to play in tournaments and build world ranking points without having to always travel to Europe…For example, I see no reason why there shouldn’t be a Challenger happening in Auckland or Mumbai at the same time as a tournament in London or Vienna. This is how I see the World Tour developing over the next few years.
2022 World Tour & the Biggest World Championships yet!
Details of confirmed tournaments for the 2022 World Tour are already published here. However, we still hope to add several other tournaments with news of a possible IWT Malta Open (May) and an IWT Rotterdam Open (June) coming by the start of Feb.
We are also planning to hold two world tour tournaments in India between Oct 28th and Nov 6th and hope to have more news on this very exciting development in the next few months. Playing Racketlon in India should be on every player’s bucket list – it’s a truly special experience.
Alongside the RFA, we have plans to host the biggest World Championships ever in our sport’s history this August. We will set up a dedicated world champs page as part of racketlon.net with tournaments news, articles and interviews as we build-up to the biggest tournament of the year!
King of Rackets
I know everyone is very keen to hear news about the King of Rackets (KOR) tournament this year as it is undoubtedly a player’s favourite and has been for so many years.
We have been in regular contact with Hilde (KOR tournament director) who has explained that Jan Vercammen (owner of the Recrean sports centre for 33 years) has retired and sold Recrean to new owners, which has obviously meant that organizing the KOR has now become far more complex with many changes at the centre.
However, Jan is still involved with the squash club and the whole KOR team are still friends and in contact with each other – but with Jan not around this May, it has not been possible for them to organize a King of Rackets in 2022, but they are still all hopeful that KOR could return in 2023, as Hilde and the whole KOR team are very keen to see everyone back playing and enjoying themselves at Recrean again!
Covid & 2022
FIR will continue to work with our local Tournament Directors, member countries and health authorities to stage tournaments that are in line with all local regulations. The FIR, in consultation with our local TD’s, will continue to create bespoke Covid Prevention Plans for each tournament which is mailed to all players in advance of each tournament. It’s vital that all players follow these guidelines.
It is also the players’ responsibility to stay up to date and understand the latest travel restrictions between their country and where they are travelling for a tournament. Please make sure you continue to book flexible travel tickets (which most airlines are now offering at little or no extra cost).
As we come through the latest surge in covid cases at the beginning of this year (which may have an effect on our first few tournaments), our hope is that the vaccination and booster programme, combined with warmer weather and a better overall understanding of how to deal with covid, should mean the 2022 World Tour can progress with far less disruption.
Questions About Tournaments
Particularly for the first few tournaments of 2022, when covid may still disrupt plans, information will be published by Tournament Director’s (TD) for each tournament as soon as it is available and we will share this through all the usual FIR channels…but if you have any specific questions, please contact the relevant TD directly – all TD contact information can be found on the FIR Tournament Software page under each tournament.
Due to the ever-changing covid situation affecting both travel and sporting events, it’s likely that some tournament information can only be published and confirmed much later than usual. This is simply the new reality we are living in at the moment, so please be patient and we will release all information as soon as we are able to.
As always, if you have any thoughts, ideas, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to contact me directly: Duncan.firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m very open and excited to hear any new ideas from as many different people as possible!
I look forward to seeing you all at a tournament very soon.
Duncan Stahl / FIR President