Battle looming between pickleball versus roller derby in Esquimalt for court time

Battle looming between pickleball versus roller derby in Esquimalt for court time

It’s the sound of growing popularity. Pickleball is taking over indoor sporting venues.

Booking a court at Saanich’s Pearkes Recreation Centre takes careful planning and strategy. Just ask player Chris Hinton, who had to book a week in advance.

“The computers open at 8:30, and you have to be on your phone at 8:29 a week before to get a court,” he said.

“And if you are second or third in line, you are probably not going to get what you want.”

Finding space to play is an issue across the country for the sport, with Pickleball Canada estimating close to a million people play at least once a month.

There’s a regional strategy across Greater Victoria to find courts for North America’s fastest-growing sport.

But sometimes, it comes at the expense of other sports.

Esquimalt council is planning to add four portable pickleball courts at the Archie Browning Sports Centre to allow for 12 hours of play every day.

That means bumping the roller derby league, according to Skye Dumond, vice president of the Eves of Destruction Roller Derby League.

“If our juniors are not able to find practice time that works with their school schedules and for the rest of the league’s game schedule, it means that they are not prepared for their gameplay throughout the province,” Dumond said.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said she’s confident a solution will be found, including moving roller derby matches into the 800-seat hockey rink.

“This is a win for Esquimalt to be able to have groups like Eves of Destruction in the ice rink where we have seats to put people into. And to have room for a sport that is just bursting at the seams,” Desjardins said.

Meanwhile, pickleball player Chris McInnes said there are simply too few places to play.

“There just are not very many courts available. We need more,” McInnes said.

It’s a battle between sports that’s not going away anytime soon.

WATCH: South Island municipalities launch regional pickleball strategy

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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