The National Pickleball League, ahead of its second season of competition for players 50 and over, has named Paul Bamundo as its chief executive officer.
Bamundo has previously worked for the National Basketball Association, International Management Group and the Ivy League. He will start his position at the NPL effective immediately, according to NPL co-founder Michael Chen.
“I am thrilled to be joining the NPL to lead this incredible league as CEO,” Bamundo said. “There has never been a better time for the growth of pickleball in both interest and participation for people of all ages. I look forward to working with our Champions Pros, co-founders, team owners and partners to build on the great foundation already established during the inaugural year of the NPL. As CEO, I will look to expand the league and provide enhanced access for fans to watch many of the best players in the world competing on the national stage.”
The NPL plans to grow from six teams during the 2023 season to up to a dozen teams in the 2024 season. It will hold three combines in February and March 2024, where players can try out to be drafted for the season. The 2024 draft will be held in April and league matches will begin in May with the regular season lasting through September and a championship in October.
“Our league has grown immeasurably in the past 11 months since we launched last December,” Chen said. “Paul has an incredible background in sports marketing and business development, and his experience building various sports organizations will help accelerate our league’s growth. He is the right person at the right time to lead NPL to greater heights, and my partners, Rick Witsken, Beth Bellamy and I can’t wait for him to get started.”
The NPL’s news comes as USA Pickleball announced the launch of the Global Pickleball Federation (GPF) along with 28 other countries with the intent to grow the sport. Four of the five continental federations, including the Asian Pickleball Association, Confederation of African Pickleball, Oceania Pickleball Federation and the Pickleball Federation of the Americas are aligned exclusively with the GPF and have board representation with the new organization.
“We are thrilled to announce this significant milestone, the launch of the GPF, in conjunction with our colleagues around the globe,” said Justin Maloof, USA Pickleball chief operating officer and GPF board member. “This has been an important project for the growth of our sport and a necessary effort as we continue to unify pickleball and establish a path forward in the coming years. I look forward to seeing the GPF’s work yield results as we continue to introduce pickleball to new countries, establish ourselves on the world stage, and pursue the inclusion of pickleball in future Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The GPF will also have a strategic partnership with Pickleball United, the first official sponsor of the federation. GPF member countries will have access to an equipment grant program assisting member countries in their efforts to launch pickleball programs and clubs.