A Celebration of Amateur, Junior & Senior Racketlon | James Pope

I was intrigued recently by the answers to a recent Racketlon Community answer about what would encourage people to play more tournaments. The most common answer was more prize money.  I was surprised by this because of player entries to events between 2014 and 2019, only 11% of male entries and 5% of female entries were ever able to win prize money.  This means that 84% of entries in that period, some 11,900 entries representing approximately 8000 players, were arriving at events unable to win more than a trophy or medal for their time. 

Realising this made me really quite happy.  The bedrock of our sport is doing it for joy, and that made me realise I wanted to celebrate these players.  It is also important that we do celebrate these players.  While it is obvious that the juniors are the future of our sport, (and what a bright and promising future it is!), it is important to look closer at our vets and our amateur category players. 

The amateur categories especially hold an important dual role in the sport.  Firstly, in countries where venue costs are high and/or sponsorship opportunities are limited, these players are the funding that enables the event to run.  The second is that these grades provide grounding for junior players to grow into the sport. 

I remember watching Luke Griffiths challenging Jesper Ratzer last year in the Men’s A semi-final in Zurich. What may be forgotten by many is that in 2017, he was battling Tommi Laine in the Men’s C semi-finals, losing by one point before finishing third in the event. In 2018, it was a sensational four-point quarter-final win over Rene Lindberg, sealed in a phenomenal set of tennis (21-16), as Luke finished 4th in that event. Luke’s natural talent and hard work got him to the Elite level, but the Racketlon intelligence earned by those battles in Vienna and Zurich is what put Luke in the position to fight Ratzer last year. 

So, why do we keep coming to these events? After all with full-time jobs, partners, children plus all the other demands on our time, why do we keep travelling to these events? After much thought it came down to a few key factors:


From my own perspective, this is probably the main draw of Racketlon.  Both across the UK Tour and World Tour, a Racketlon tournament personally always feels more special than playing in a squash event. Primarily because the uniqueness of Racketlon means that I can (and regularly do) play someone who is well above my level in one or two of the sports.  If I play a squash tournament, it is banded and everyone I play is around my level of squash; whereas in Racketlon while we may be a similar level of Racketlon player, our variety in profiles means I can easily play an exceptional TT player, who in the normal course of tournaments I wouldn’t be able to watch, let alone play against and learn from. This, along with the mental aspect of Racketlon make it an alluring sport that I want to keep playing.  


Before I complicated my life with small children, a real joy of the FIR World Tour was that it gave me a nice excuse for a city break.  Whether that was taking in opportunities of events going on within a city (such as the Diamond League athletics meet in Paris) or extending my stay with a few days exploring with my wife (as I have done in Malta and Latvia).  Sometimes there are also opportunities to mix work and pleasure. In 2019, I headed to Prague for the Czech Open before getting on a train to Vienna to attend a conference the following week.  Ultimately, the FIR World Tour offers a great excuse for either a few days in the sun or a long weekend exploring a new city. When you look at the tour, there are some wonderful cultural opportunities!


Yes, it is a massive cliche, but the travelling band of Racketlon players is a massive part of being a Racketlon player. The importance of this community was highlighted to me during the initial phase of the Covid pandemic.  With much of Europe in lockdown, a group of us banded together for twice-a-week workouts over Zoom.  While of course, the main aim was to stay fit, these sessions were as much about the conversation with each other. Our community banding together to help each other through.  Back on the tour, whether we are debating profiles of players or catching up over a beer, the relaxing after a day of play at an event is (almost) as important as the event itself. 

“The travelling band of Racketlon players is a massive part of being a Racketlon player” James Pope

 There will be other personal reasons for people, and I would love to hear what other amateur players’ reasons for playing are.  It is important to learn from these reasons and to work out how we can use that to build our sport. Our elite players are the stars of the sport, which we want and hope people will pay to watch compete.

However, it is the amateur and vets players that provide the foundation for our sport.  They build the community which we rely on. They furnish the classroom for our future stars to learn in. And they, as the largest demographic in our sport, are our main form of advertising, as they get out and talk to people about playing Racketlon and why it is so much fun. 

James Pope / Racketlon Player

Want to play in a Racketlon tournament on the FIR World Tour? Find our full list of 2022 tournaments here, with entry open to players of all ages and abilities.

Interested in writing an article for Racketlon.net? We’re always on the lookout for interesting articles and ideas from contributors. If you have an idea or an article that you would like published on Racketlon.net then please contact Media Officer Sam Barker at barker.sam@hotmail.co.uk.

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