SASKATOON -- While on their newly finished outdoor pickleball court, those with Saskatoon Pickleball Inc. (SPI) celebrated their sport with many across the country on National Pickleball Day Saturday.

"We have told families and individuals that play to bring a person out and introduce them to the game. That’s kind of our goal for today and across Canada to introduce people to the game," said Marilyn Barrington, acting president of SPI. 

Pickleball is a racket sport similar to tennis, but involves a racket closer to ping-pong, and is played outside or inside on a court.

The sport is often considered to be easier to move around than tennis or badminton, making it better for people looking for a sport with less wear-and-tear on the body, according to Barrington. 

SPI’s new court, which is in the Father Basil Markle Park in Sutherland, was finished in June, and although players have been able to use it, Barrington said that they’ve had to dial back on numbers and look into how to play safely during the pandemic.

Despite the slowdown in recent activity, Barrington said that the sport is still growing in the city and around the province.

"A lot of people are taking it up. We’ve grown by the hundreds. We’re over 800 now playing in Saskatoon and in the province we have about 1,300 registered players," Barrington said.

Barrington said the sport is finding its legs in the province after years of being played mostly by snowbirds bringing the game back from places like Florida and Arizona.

Glenn Stumborg, a board member with SPI, said he has been playing for years and would play seven days a week if he could. He adds that he loves to introduce people to the sport.

"I tell people all the time, just come on out and play, you’ll love it, you don’t have to be a major athlete, just come out and enjoy," Stumborg said.

Stumborg was introduced by a racket-ball friend and said that anyone who has enjoyed a similar sport such as badminton or tennis will have an easy time picking up pickleball. 

Colleen Moniuk has also been playing pickleball for years and said one of her favourite parts is making new friends.

"I love the social aspect of it because we’ve met so many people playing pickleball and that’s a huge benefit," Moniuk said.

A limited amount of people attended the national event Saturday as SPI wanted to ensure it could adhere to the province’s public gathering restrictions. 

Barrington said they reached out to the proper authorities to see about how to host the event safely, and that they have even taken extra steps such as bleaching the balls after each game.

Barrington said that due to the nature of the game, physical distancing isn’t difficult as there are only two people on each side.

People who want to find out more about the sport can visit SPI’s website.