Sonny, tell us a bit about yourself?
Firstly, thank you for the opportunity to become a role model for BASTF. It is an honour and I would like to commend you for the fantastic work that you have done thus far in making such an impact in Asian sport in the UK and the platform that you are providing for our youngsters.
Ok, a bit about me…I work as a manager in full time professional employment in a busy role and have been in this career for over 22 years now. Aside from working I have a few businesses that I run including; Instructing Kung Fu, Coaching Squash, Writing books and selling Eleven Plus Exam Papers, on top of that I am an avid online Sports and Shares Trader and am also a Life coach too. All in all, I have a very busy weekly timetable and love nothing more than to unwind with family time or spending a night out with one of my close buddies, this makes all of the work and business efforts much more palatable when I am chilling and unwinding.
What sports in particular do you participate in?
When I was younger I played a tremendous amount of football and travelled up and down the country with my team playing in tournaments and scooping many trophies. I was quite handy as a striker and had a reputation for scoring in most matches I played in with my most memorable moment when I scored 5 goals in a final in 1999 (oh those halcyon days). I even captained my Gurdwara and Sunday league teams and had a great deal of fun kicking a ball around. Alongside this I have always been a keen Squash enthusiast and have been playing the sport for well over 20 years now. I have competed in and managed to win or come runner up in many tournaments in that time all over the UK, somewhere in the region of 60 trophies where I played many top level Squash players (including Professional players) and had a blast. These were great memories and really enjoyable times for me. Sadly, a few injuries, the odd life support machine moment (more about that later) and old age have robbed me of the gazelle like speed I once possessed, but that is life and it gets us all one day. I still love playing and competing and one day hope to make the Squash Masters England squad with everything being equal and I am training hard towards that goal. I also teach Kung Fu and have attained black belts in several disciplines (Wing Tsun, Wing Chun and Jujitsu) and have always been a huge fan of Bruce Lee. I love the confidence and calmness that the martial arts gives you and have been training for over 20 years too. So all in all I really spent a lot of my years training and competing which has been really fulfilling and I am so satisfied with the memories that playing sport has given me over the years, it has been wonderful.
In what way do you think you can be a good role model and help inspire young Asians out there who are interested in sport?
I have always been very passionate about sport and life in general and anyone who truly knows me can vouch that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I feel that this approach has helped me to achieve a great deal of things in my life and made me push myself to my limits and enabled me to squeeze every scintilla of excitement and adventure out of my pursuits. I am still thirsty and focused on making the most of life and giving something back to my children and all of my clients across all of my businesses, otherwise there is no point in achieving any success if you simply can’t follow the simple Confucian ethic of making those close to you, those who have faith in you achieve a higher level of success than even you attained in your life. This Confucian principle remains dear to my heart and that is why I get out of bed in the morning and work hard. I want to pass on my knowledge and life experience to those who are up and coming and also want to work hard to make their dreams come true. It is all about inspiring the youngsters to believe in themselves and understand that there really is so much that sport can bring to the table.
What are your passions away from sport?
My passion is travelling and I can see myself doing this for many more years as the travel bug is still burning fiercely. My ventures have taken me all over the world from all of the major European cities, Canada, the States to the beaches of Venezuela, Copacabana in Brazil, Buenos Aires, the Pyramids of Egypt, the haunting charm of Turkey, the Caribbean and the heavenly Maldives (having been several times I can honestly say that this is as close to paradise on earth as I have ever got). I simply love the fun of it all, meeting new characters and sampling wonderful cuisine, this passion makes me feel alive!
How have your life experiences shaped you as a person? What principles do you stand by?
I love laughter, I love people being happy and enjoying themselves, I love the company of good family and friends and above all else I love enjoying life with whatever you have at your disposal despite the hardships and scars that everyone carries and I truly believe that we are blessed to be alive!
With regards to principles, I am a straight talker and I have been renowned for challenging unfairness, inequality and bullying behaviour throughout all aspects of my life. I am known to give you a piece of my mind if I feel that you are deliberately trying to disrespect me or satisfy your own ego by attempting to put me down. This is a trait that I have carried with me throughout my life and one that I am thankful that I possess. In saying that, I am a fair person and will always help you when I can, I am also very loyal to those who know me and have purposefully kept a very close knit group of friends who I know I could trust with anything. I am the first person to help you should you be in trouble and someone who you can turn to for advice.
You are a Squash and Kung Fu coach to your three lovely children – Jasmin, Danni and Dylan. What inspires you to teach them yourself and what do you think their future holds?
As every proud parent would say, my children are my life and watching them grow and achieve every single day gives me tremendous satisfaction. They are all so talented in many ways and I am blessed that they have inherited my passion for getting the most out of life. I am also very proud to have helped coach both of my daughters to pass the very tough 11+ Grammar school exam and earn their spots at their local Grammar school. Those were tough times and I had to completely learn the 11+ curriculum and question types myself before I could even think about teaching them, but the toil was worth it and they excelled in the exams. As a consequence I then opened up my own 11+ Exam papers business and that has been successful so far.
My kids squash has been going really well, considering that they have only being playing for a few years. Both my daughters are Berkshire Squash champions and my boy is showing tremendous promise. I am certain that if they continue that they will be future champions, even World champions – you never know and why dream small hey! They are all enjoying playing on the UK Junior Squash circuit and have all attained good rankings since they started with Danni reaching the UK number 10 position in the Under 11 category, a very proud day for her considering she had only been playing for 2 years up until that point. I am on court with them 3/4 times per week and we really have a lot of fun aside from the serious training. We mix things up by goofing around and this does make training really enjoyable for all of us. I love these moments and they will always be fond memories for me when the kids get older. It is a beautiful thing, it really is and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What are your sporting goals for the future?
My dreams are two-fold. With regards to my Kung Fu I want to continue to teach and to encourage as many people to learn this wonderful martial art that has served me so well for many years. I want to train all of my children to Black belt/sash level (my eldest daughter earned her Black Belt with my niece under my tutelage) and want to continue to teach both privately and in dedicated clubs for many more years to come.
My second passion and goal is with Squash. I want to represent England at International level by performing well and gaining ranking points in the 8 yearly Squash Masters tournaments across the UK (including the British Nationals and British Open). I want to continue to coach my children so that one day they can ALL fulfil their ambitions by trying their hand at Professional Squash and seeing how far they can go. The training commitment has been there from me from the very moment they all embarked upon their squash journey and I am very pleased to say that the inbuilt passion and dedication that they have showed has been mind-blowing and really satisfying. So there you have it, my sporting goals on a plate and hopefully within the next few years my personal sporting dreams and coaching aspirations may just be within reach…
I understand you fought back from a tough illness and have had to overcome some hardships to be where you are today, tell us a little about this?
This is an emotive subject for me as it was a very low point in my life and a time when as far as everyone around me was concerned my life was over. Well, I was in a bad way with my body being ravished with blood-poisoning (Sepsis), organ failure, pneumonia, MRSA and pleurisy. I had even overheard a couple of Doctors talking about how I would not make it at the foot of my bed when I was in a semi-coma (quite disturbing but true!). I had lost all sense of certainty in my life, I did not know whether I would make it or not, but I fought back hard with the only way I knew how and I pulled through with all of my fighting spirit. As I lay there recovering I had a realisation, my fight had sparked an awakening, a deepened desire to take life by the scruff of the neck and to squeeze every moment I could out of it with even MORE PASSION than I had before, and this is what I do each and every day. I am thankful to those Doctors who saved my life and in the not too distant future I will be promoting SEPSIS awareness as widely as I can. It is truly deadly and very, very painful and from my research I know that not many people survive it!
Any last words of encouragement and inspiration for any youngsters who are interested in taking up a sport or are trying to excel in their chosen sport?
Do not hold back when you train, never lose sight of your goals and always strive to be the very best you can be in everything that you do. No matter what challenges life throws at you try and find a way to overcome them, to see past the problem and look for a way to better yourself and find a better place.
Focus on your sporting goals and take all necessary steps to be the very best you can be. Train hard but smartly. Always keep a diary of your progress and see how far you have come with regular monthly reviews. Be aware that you can be anything that you want if you set your mind to it, you can beat anyone in your sport if you train efficiently, you can overcome any fear holding you back if you harness your inner passion and fire.
Lastly, to be the best, you need to train with the heart of a champion each and every day. You need to have the confidence and determination to push yourself closer to your goals. You need to believe that you will be the best and before long you will be closer to fulfilling your sporting dreams, because with that kind of DESIRE, not even a mountain will be able to stop you from achieving success!
I run a blog with further details about my coaching services on my website if you wanted to know more. The website contains all aspects of Life & Sports coaching – www.kalarcoaching.com.
Finally, Apinder & Davinder, I would like to reiterate my total admiration for what you have achieved in starting BASTF and for providing a crucial platform for young Asian sporting talent. I wish you every success moving forward and will be ready to support you as much as I can in the future. Well done and thanks again.
Many Thanks to our Role Model Sonny Kalar for sharing his experiences with us, we here at BASTF are excited about Sonny coming on board the foundation.