The large polycarbonate windows of the last of the seven playgrounds are still being cleaned with a squeegee when the first four customers arrive in the room branded Urban Roundnet. “Free coffee! exclaims Jean-Romain Sintes who, with his associates, launched the concept this Saturday, in Saint-Denis. An old workshop lit 7 m high by a glass roof highlights over 700 m2 a sport still little known in France: roundnet, or Spikeball, named after the manufacturer who made this discipline popular, particularly in the United States.
“It’s the first room of its kind in France and it doesn’t exist elsewhere either,” continues Jean-Romain Sintes, presenting the premises. The idea germinated during a wedding party! We had brought a kit to play and as soon as we started, guests came to see us, wanted to try and joined. Several of them had subsequently purchased the equipment. »
The ease of access to the game, its simplicity as well as that of the necessary equipment explain the success. A rubber ball that will be hit with bare hands, a circular net installed on the ground to ensure the rebounds and… that’s it: the teams, generally made up of two practitioners, can begin to challenge each other and above all to have fun.
From the first exchanges of the discipline, which evokes a mixture of volleyball and tennis, cries and laughter burst forth. Arthur, 28, is the first to cross the threshold of the room this Saturday. “I’ve been playing there for two or three years,” explains the young man from Paris. I had seen this sport in the United States, it is typically practiced on large lawns, on beautiful days. We have a good time and there, I wanted to discover the indoor courts with my friends. »
The investment amounts to 230,000 euros for Urban Roundnet which would like, if it works, to subsequently open a second site in Île-de-France and then create franchises in the provinces and even in Europe. “There are 75,000 occasional or regular players in the Paris region, and probably 200,000 throughout the country. There is a federation which was created a year ago, explains Jean-Romain Sintes. It is also widely practiced in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The advantage of a room is that you can continue to play when it’s cold, if it’s raining or if it’s dark at 5 p.m. »
In the capital and in the suburbs, amateurs gather informally in public parks, in courtyards, in gymnasiums or on esplanades, such as that of the Trocadéro. “There are a hundred clubs in France. The two largest are historically in Paris and Toulouse,” emphasizes Jean-Romain Sintes.
Urban Roundnet, 29 rue Calon, in Saint-Denis. Times and prices on Urbanroundnet.com.