Great Ormond Street Hospital – What an Awesome Place

WP_20140814_008

BASTF Co-founder Bob shares his thoughts on our visit to GOSH to present a donation from our Charity Golf Day…..

An eclectic mix of buildings, a welcoming interior but a serious underlying sense of purpose – that was my first impression of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Built on a real passion for the welfare of children but supported by the generosity of many thousands of donors.

We met with the team at GOSH charity headquarters and were given a warm welcome – they were so grateful for any support whether big or small; and it was evident that the support teams are so passionate about what they do.

Danny and myself presented the cheque to the team – it felt good… but it was the next hour that would confirm that BASTFs efforts had gone to a very worthwhile cause.

The hospital was a hive of activity with worried parents, hard working doctors and nurses, amazing support staff, volunteers and of course the children. So much thought has been put into the makeup of the buildings, whether new or old to make the children feel more comfortable, but to remain a fully functional hospital – even the   clinical smell has been intelligently removed and replaced with something more comforting.

The children are distracted from their day to day problems through play, illuminated lifts, an in house school and even an LED wall that lights up in the form of animals as the children are taken to theatre. The hospital continues to strive towards medical excellence, investing in research and development and acquiring the finest scientific brains from around the world.

Nothing is more moving than seeing a child return from major surgery surrounded by a team of doctors and wrapped in bandages and monitoring equipment. But with GOSH you are very aware that child and her parents will receive the very best care.

BASTF is so grateful for everyone’s generosity at the golf day and we are even more determined to make a larger contribution next year.

Advertisements

Keaton Samra – a racing protege

KS_1

There are no combination of words that would describe the selfless commitment of a family determined to provide the very best opportunity to their son in fulfilling his dream.

To be inspired by Keaton and humbled by the Samra family would be understatements and to witness his talent was a privilege.

Our exciting meeting led us to Buckmore Park in Kent, probably the most difficult go karting circuit in the UK. Upon our arrival we were warmly met by Suki, Keaton’s father, who kindly showed us  around the circuit and the areas that the  normal  public don’t get to see. The place was a hive of activity with various team awnings lined up behind the circuit. Sponsors, mechanics and concerned parents were hard at work tuning, fine tuning and repairing their karts, whilst the drivers analysed data and deliberated their racing lines for the next heat.

Suki, led us to his new mobile home, an investment decision to eradicate expensive hotel costs and keep the family together during race season; and where we met Keaton’s mum Aman, Keaton and his younger brother. Within this organised but confined accommodation it was not difficult to see  the level of commitment and determination the family had in nurturing Keaton’s natural talent – and they all appeared on a high from Keaton’s previous night’s success at becoming the 2014 Best Young Achiever at the British Indian Awards in Birmingham.

While Keaton prepared for his next qualifying race, the BASTF team took a stroll with Suki to get a general picture of life in the SAMRA world.  Suki’s passion and steel is clearly evident and  from the inset you know this family unit means business, with every minute detail put under the  microscope.  As the conversation continued it became glaringly obvious the huge financial and emotional  commitment that is required to become the very best – the missed family weddings, no social life,  a normal childhood and as Suki puts it, “a Sunday off could mean us just staying in our PJ’s all day!”.

Alongside the gruelling racing schedule, Keaton maintains a strict and disciplined work ethic – early morning fitness sessions keep his body in top condition  preparing him aptly for the physical demands of racing. This  disciplined lifestyle with the huge support from the unsung hero – HIS MUM – has had a positive knock on effect on his school work ensuring Keaton continues to achieve in his school subjects to the very highest standards.

When  race time  arrives we all make our way to the  grand stand to watch Keaton race. As the race begins, the passion and anxiety can be seen on the family’s faces – they live and breathe racing and their anticipation quickly transfers to the BASTF team. Suki’s focus is on Keaton’s race lines and his conversation becomes interrupted by cries of euphoria at the shear skill of his driving.   Keaton drives a magnificent race, his dexterity and natural ability to be one with his kart more than evident and a cut above the competition. He weaved in and out, carefully choosing his strategy to overtake the karts in front of him – a maturity and racing brain beyond his years. During the Final lap Keaton looked in great position to win the race until he was clipped from behind and his kart spun out of control.  However, his steely resolve and competitive nature got him back on track and he miraculously managed to make up his lost position in a relatively small amount of time. Although visibly upset after the race, Keaton was even more determined to improve in the next race – That’s passion and definitely something you can’t teach!

The SAMRA family are a rare  breed of Asians in terms of their commitment and dedication to help their son achieve the very top level in sport – a possibility we can now foresee.  It’s only when you experience firsthand the sacrifice and  hard work of this family unit that you realise just what it takes to turn a dream into reality. Keaton has all the attributes and characteristics one needs to succeed; he is humble, respectful, mature beyond his years and has a steely determination that you only see in the very elite sportsman.   It  was a real pleasure for the BASTF team to meet the SAMRA family and we hope to continue being part of Keaton’s flourishing career.

In case you were wondering, here is how things shaped that weekend in Buckmore Park for Keaton:

Heat 2-started 9th finished 2nd – carved through traffic in early laps to get up to 2nd and then pushed the driver in front and himself clear of the pack to finish 2nd

Sunday – Pre final- started 6th got up to 4th in the first two corners then due to an incident there was a red flag, race was re started back from original grid positions. Keaton again got through traffic to push the driver infront and himself clear of the pack. 15 min race 4 mins to go the driver starts defending and bringing the whole pack into contention. Keaton nerves of steel lost 2 positions, got one back to finish 3rd in a pack of 10 plus drivers all going for the win. This race aged me by 10 years, only to be told by Keaton that he had everything under control.

Sundays grand final – Started 3rd – him and his team mate and another drive on the same Zip Kart chassis pushed away for 15 mins and won the race 5 secs clear with Keaton coming in 3rd.

This has resulted in Keaton gaining a huge haul of points which sees him sitting 6th in the British championship table, previously was sitting 12th due to bad luck in the first round.

 

Click here to keep in touch with Keaton’s progress on his official website

 

Consolidated

Neel Sood – A Passion for Sports Development

It’s the March edition of our blog and we are fortunate to have our Ambassador Neel Sood give us an insight into his passion for sports development and the importance of giving back.

Being a Sports Development Officer, and providing opportunities for other people to become more active and involved in sport, is a career that I find fascinating and very rewarding. Working in the sports industry is probably a career choice that is seldom chosen in the Asian community; but I want to share my experiences on how my passion for sport and my true belief in its virtues, has led to me pursuing this choice of career. I believe that if others have the passion, it’s a great career to be in.

My earliest memory of sport was the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, when I was 5 years old, when I watched the men’s hockey final on old school VHS with my dad; Great Britain beat the then West Germany 3-1, and an obsession was born.  My dad had played hockey since his boyhood, and I promptly joined his club’s junior section, spending almost every Saturday going to watch him play and every Sunday playing myself. Cue years of negotiating with my parents to stay up late to watch any sport that was on TV.

As I grew up, and my interest in hockey grew (I represented the South of England at junior level), other pressures started to grow on me too. As a teen, I was in a similar position to most Asians, under pressure to perform academically. At a time where many drop off the sporting radar, with the blessing of my parents, I kept up with my sports, eventually breaking into the senior first team of my club, and continuing to compete at school and junior level. I feel it was important to do something to break the routine of studying, and would advise the same to others; I’ve been lucky enough in my current role to research that being physically active or playing sport can increase academic attainment and engagement at school.

I continued playing hockey through university and beyond, and continued to enjoy playing. I began to see a new part of sport that I’d not previously thought would be for me – coaching. The more I did, the more I became passionate about giving chances to younger players to play and get involved in hockey;  and this is where my enthusiasm for getting more people active came from. I found, even in the junior section of my hockey club, it was very rewarding to see others being active; something that prompted me to become even more active myself.

After several years of deciding what career choice to go into, I decided that sports development was the career for me. Though it is not as financially rewarding as other careers, I felt that seeing others reach their goals, and being more active, would be the reward I would have from my job, and so it has proved.

My experience in the industry has been entirely in my local area, which is one of the things I love about my current role, it’s putting something back into the area that I grew up in which is worth more than money to me I feel. I currently work at Get Berkshire Active, which is the local County Sports Partnership (the lead strategic body for community sport in the county), so I work entirely at grassroots level.

I have been fortunate to see some excellent sporting stories through the course of my job, but most of all I have been fortunate to have seen some incredible stories of sport changing people’s lives. You may have heard of famous stories of sports stars such as Clint Dempsey, Luol Deng and countless others who have used sports as a way out of unfortunate life situations and have gone on to make it to the top of their profession.

I have seen young people with broken lives and little future, take to sport to give them some focus, and make a success of themselves; either by going on to university when it seems they had lost interest in education, or in some other way. It’s the wider power of sport that I love to see in action, and which gives me great satisfaction in what I do.

If you are similarly passionate about sport, and getting people more active in sport or other activity, for the huge benefits it can bring to people’s lives;  then working in sports development is definitely a career worth thinking about as it is so hugely rewarding.

We would like to Thank Neel Sood for sharing his experience with us and look forward to his continual involvement with the foundation.

Follow Neel Sood on Twitter

KEATON SAMRA: THE NEXT LEWIS HAMILTON

This month BASTF have been graced by a guest post by our very own Ambassador Manisha Tailor.  It features an emerging talent “Keaton Samra“, who is pushing to become the first British Asian Formula One driver.

Learning to drive, a skill that can take several months, and for some, a number of years before they are at the stage of taking to the road as legally passed drivers. I think back at myself, 17 when I began taking lessons and perhaps the average age for most, but certainly not all as I have found someone who at the tender age of 6 started to learn this fine art. Someone who has already impressed the likes of Zip Kart, Grand Prix Racewear as well as the Sporting Director from Mercedes-Benz AMG F1 Team – Keaton Samra.
Whilst for the majority of 5 year olds, child’s play, free exploration and discovery of their surroundings would be a common interest. But, for Keaton Samra, now 11, this was when his fascination for cars began. It was through watching Formula 1 (F1) that led to his love for karting, inspired by the 2008 F1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. “I started driving at 6 years of age and I really enjoyed it from the moment I started. I think the best part of it is the high speeds that you encounter going round corners”.

Within just 2 years Keaton embarked upon competitive racing and his achievements to date are commendable. In 2012, in his first attempt, he came 1st in the Whilton Mill Kart Club championship. This year he participated in the East Anglian Championship, which was a weekend event. Winning both the Saturday and Sunday finals he achieved the ‘East Anglian Champion’ title. Also being crowned the ‘Midlands Champion’ this year, it is to no surprise that his name is on the same trophy as racing hero’s Nigel Mansell and Jenson Button!

Earlier this year Keaton, with his father Suki Samra, appeared on Brit Asia TV show, Real Talk Sport, hosted by Apache Indian. His goal for this year was to secure a seeding of 10th in the UK, which through hard work, dedication and commitment he has been able to do. Currently, Keaton is officially seeded 10th in the UK in the Honda Cadet Class. A real credit to himself and his family.

Suki speaks of the importance of parental support within the sport in ensuring Keaton is in the best possible position to fulfil his dreams. “Parental support is paramount due to the level of sacrifice and commitment it takes. We are effectively out 2-3 weekends per month and as part of the British Championship where we also have to travel all over the UK”. He goes on to say, “We would not change a single moment and quite frankly we get bored when we are not racing, especially Roman, Keaton’s 5 year old brother who adores his brother and wants to also race!”

Keaton’s school work is equally held with high regard and both the school and family have found strategies to balance education with sport, illustrating that both can have a significant role in a child’s development. Suki explains, “School work is completed on the day that Keaton receives it in order to stay on top of it. Since Keaton started karting, his school work has improved significantly and he is in the the top group for all classes with maths and science being his favourite”.

In addition, Keaton created a training programme with the help of his father which involves: training in the gym 3 times a week, stretches, push-ups and sit-ups every morning when he wakes up prior to school. As a result, Keaton is one of the fittest drivers in his class and does not break a sweat or be out of breath when other drivers are breathing heavily and red-faced after a race!For those budding drivers wanting to get into the sport, this is what Suki advises, “Just make sure that you can afford it and be prepared to sacrifice your weekends. Speak to professionals and reputable teams to ensure that you are not ‘ripped off’. Ultimately, be prepared for the ups and downs. Enjoy it as it can very easily become serious”.Unfortunately karting is an extremely expensive sport and requires substantial funds. Currently Keaton is soley funded by his parents and grandparents and the costs are barely being met. Keaton is desperate for sponsorship for him to be able to sustain his passion and love for driving. “I want to be a Formula One driver and my role model is Lewis Hamilton. I’d like to be like him”. At only 11, Keaton’s CV has so far impressed and turned the heads of a lot of high-ranking people in motorsport. As a community I urge businesses and other organisations to support Keaton’s dream. Without the funds and sponsors, sadly this may not be possible. Be part of his journey in becoming the first ever British Asian Formula One driver.

To know more about Keaton’s racing journey, or to contact his father, Suki Samra, please visit: http://www.team-samra-racing.com/

Keaton Samra

My sporting journey – the passenger’s perspective!

This weekend one of our Future Champions ISHA Chhatwal won the Gillingham Golf tournament against a large number of entrants.  ISHA’s dad and co-founder of BASTF gives us an insight into how he has helped his daughter, a wonderful upcoming talented golfer, develop and flourish.

It has not been like the M25 – long and boring, but more akin to a stretch on the GT road into the Punjab – never straightforward, lots of dips and bumps, but extremely rewarding sights along the way as the journey unfolds.

From the onset my daughter demonstrated a very mature and calm personality. She had natural hand eye coordination and upper body strength – some of the essential instruments for many sports but especially the game of golf.

She excelled at many school sports such as netball and rounders, but it was my biased influence on Isha that steered her towards golf. I knew my passion for a particular sport would ease the burden of early starts and a dwindling bank balance! No offence but I couldn’t see myself getting up in the early hours of the morning to prepare for a ballet competition!

Even with this passion the journey has been arduous. The regimented schedule, daily golf lessons with some upto 2 1/2 hours away and the onus on the parents to set an example i.e losing weight and keeping fit! How can you preach to others if you don’t practise them yourself! But with specified and realistic goals being attained it has all been worth it.

Normally the only Indian child, let alone Indian girl, partaking in the competition, things can be intimidating and often brings attention amongst the existing members! However, I have always instilled in my children that sport is the platform to showcase your talents and breakdown age-old barriers and stereotypes. This philosophy has come true on so many occasions, with other golfers making the effort to congratulate her on an amazing shot or a tournament victory and often a bit of friendly banter at the bar afterwards with a drink bought by them!

I have enjoyed the trips made to tournaments and practice sessions as it has allowed me to spend quality time with the kids, talking and discussing everything golf. Visiting different clubs, learning the etiquettes of the game and be members of a local club has given them self-confidence and opportunities to converse with a variety of people of differing ages.

But it has all come at a price – it’s been very expensive. But then I ask the question – in real terms has it been? Well, you do the maths.

Keeping your children occupied in an activity that challenges them physically as well as mentally as opposed to sitting in front of the television or playing electronic games.

Socialising with like-minded people in a competitive environment as opposed to playing on the streets, unsupervised and prone to a multitude of sins.

Spending quality time and getting to really know your kids – amazing memories, funny moments, some lows but ultimately the best high you can get!

Huge Thanks to Davinder for sharing his thoughts on his journey so far.

My Wife thinks I have Golfing turrets!

On Sunday 21st July the foundation delivered its first major event of the year, a Golf Day.  Mainly to raise money for a great charity, The Great Ormond Street Hospital, but to also raise awareness of Golf amongst the youth.  The event was a great success, with photo’s soon to be released on our Facebook page.  For now, get the “low down” of the day from one of the co-founders of BASTF and organisers of the event, Davinder Chhatwal.

WP_20130721_006

GOLF GOLF Day GOLF GOLF Day GOLF day……….. it’s the only thing on my mind.

Having never organised something like this before we arrived on Sunday with nervous trepidation. Continue reading

Timeout from my coaching – a short note!

Preamble

Some years back, having been a parent on the sidelines, our then U7’s coach rang me up one evening and said he was going on a 3 week break and whether I could help run training sessions with the kids as cover.  I reluctantly agreed, unfortunately he never came back to training, however fortunately I got the opportunity to coach and from that moment on an emotional journey and bond with my players began.  For all those involved in any aspect of coaching, you will only too well know the high’s and low’s, but more importantly you will understand that this is an opportunity to make a positive impact on someone…..but now I have called it time-out…….for now! Continue reading