Maree Todd Joins In SEMSA Badminton Session

On Wednesday 3 May, Maree Todd, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport and Badminton Scotland CEO Keith Russell visited SEMSA’s (Scottish Ethnic Minority Sports Association) badminton session at Bellahouston. The session is run weekly by sportscotland’s 2022 Community Club Coach of the Year, Rajani Tyagi.

Rajani is a true ambassador of Badminton Scotland and has worked with SEMSA for just over seven years where she coaches both badminton and women’s cricket. Rajani’s achievements and continued dedication to inclusion and breaking down barriers in sport, especially for BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities, was recognised by Maree Todd earlier in the day at the Race and Racism in Scottish Sport Conference.

During session four of the conference, which was tailored around creating and promoting supporting opportunities to engage women and girls from diverse communities, Maree spoke passionately about Rajani and SEMSA’s work, saying she believes it creates genuine opportunities which everyone can access, in turn strengthening communities and providing mental, physical and social opportunities for all. Maree also told attendees she had her gym kit with her, excited and ready for the badminton session that evening!

During her speech, Maree put a spotlight and stressed the importance of how sport can lead change through listening to experiences, especially from those who have experienced exclusion, barriers and racism. We need to listen to people’s own experiences then take action with an honest approach into understanding what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately we all have a commitment to be the change.

Following her visit to Bellahouston, Maree tweeted: “We want everyone in Scotland to be able to participate in sport & experience the fun, fitness & friendships that brings. What an inspiring evening in Glasgow with award winning coach Rajani & these talented badminton players. Thank you!”

The purpose of Rajani’s 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.”

SEMSA was established in 1990 due to the lack of provisions available to BME communities of Glasgow. Since its inception, SEMSA has created and provided culturally sensitive sporting opportunities to the BME community.

The session was also attended by Badminton Scotland CEO, Keith Russell: “Rajani’s badminton sessions are a positive, non-judgemental and safe space where many women and girls play badminton each week. We will continue to build a relationship with Rajani and support the great work she does. We very much look forward to the Women’s Community Badminton Tournament on Saturday 3 June at the Sir Craig Reedie Badminton Centre.”

Get involved

Badminton sessions currently run on Saturday mornings at Kelvinhall and on Wednesday nights at Bellahouston.

In partnership with SEMSA, we have organised a Women’s Community Badminton Tournament for female players to experience some fun and friendly competition on Saturday 3 June 2023. This event includes both a Singles & Doubles events and guaranteed to be a great day!

Inspiring others: community impact

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”. Rajani 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”.

She 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” – and this was very much a key theme within the Race and Racism in Scottish Sport Conference.

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