Posted on 10th October 2022
A huge congratulations to Rajani Tyagi who was awarded sportscotland’s Community Club Coach of the Year at the Coaching, Volunteering and Officiating (COV) Awards on 4 October 2022.
Rajani has worked with Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association (SEMSA) for just over seven years where she takes care of badminton and women’s cricket. She currently runs sessions on Saturday mornings at Kelvinhall and on Wednesday nights at Bellahouston.
SEMSA was established in 1990 due to the lack of provisions available to the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities of Glasgow. Since its inception SEMSA has created and provided culturally sensitive sporting opportunities to the (BME) community.
Rajani tells us: “the best thing about SEMSA is that you are given the freedom to organise events and go forward with your ideas. We are all working towards improving physical health for the Asian community, so the support you get from the other members is huge”.
Rajani moved to Scotland from India and began looking for places where she could get involved. She came across SEMSA which straight away, she knew was a fabulous platform.
“Badminton is a sport many of us have played at some point in our lives. We know what is it but don’t have a place to play, so that’s how the idea came about”.
Rajani says that the purpose of her sessions is to get women and girls involved: “women, mainly mothers along with many others often don’t find any organised activities. There can be a bit of shyness about going out for yourself or doing things like going to the gym or a walk. I felt if there is a dedicated time and place which is culturally sensitive, non-judgemental and specifically for women like me who want to play badminton they can get involved.”
In her video with sportscotland, Rajani highlighted that many women at her level of sport may just there for recreation or participating in physical activity as it can be daunting for them to play in clubs: “I think once you have something like that going where are you realise that everybody is of your level and there is coaching available and you see your own kind of women and girls it just feels so much more comfortable and that’s how it all started”.
Community Club Coach of the Year
The Community Club Coach award recognises Rajani as an outstanding coach, who has significantly increased the sport and physical activity opportunities available. The award also takes into account participation levels the positive affect she has had on the wider community.
Rajani’s reaction: “I think it is absolutely amazing and it’s really huge for me because this is obviously not something I was trained in, but to do something just because you’re passionate about it without aspiring for recognition, you just do it because you like doing it!”
A regular at Rajani’s sessions said: “she is the person who we look forward to for any sports we want to play. Not only badminton but we also play cricket with her and it’s very nice to be part of it” – Kruti Vohra
Nominator Dilawer Singh MBE also adds: “she has a very very understanding ability of the players you know, to coach them. Not every good player can be a good coach, but I think she is both.
When asked how it feels to receive the award and what it means on a personal level, Rajani tells us: “getting this recognition is important and it’s like winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games medal for me. It also tells others that there is this pathway, there is recognition if you put in the effort and if you’re volunteering, so it’s huge in every aspect for me personally, as well as for people who know me.”
Rajani coaches women from all over, India, Pakistan, China and Scottish girls: “people get to know more people and they make connections on their own, at their own level”. In her video with sportscotland, she raises the importance of bringing communities together, saying: “people who are not in sports, I think, underestimate the power of sports to bring communities together”.
Rajani tells us about a young girl who got in touch from Dundee wanting to start something similar. She saw Rajani coaching and felt it was possible to work on her aspirations of creating and developing a club. The girl is now doing the Badminton Scotland Badminton Basics course which Rajani says will give her the confidence to run the club and improve in areas like holding the racket correctly, running games, events and much more.
Rajani says, “It’s all about ‘See one to be one’ (#C1-2B-1), knowing someone who’s done it and feeling confident to start that conversation and in your own time you go and do it”.
Everyone at Badminton Scotland would like to extend a huge congratulations to Rajani on this special achievement – well done!
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