Keaton Samra – a racing protege

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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

Monica Sharma – One Passionate Football Player

We are kicking off 2014 in style and it gives us great pleasure to feature the first post of this new year, from Chesham United Ladies FC player Monica Sharma.……a passion from the start

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Being brought up in Hounslow by humble grandparents and a supporting family, allowed me to develop an unconditional love and passion for the game of Football. Many footballers start their development at very early ages, however mine started from a somewhat late age of 12 years. I was very much influenced by my dad and uncles who played for a local team, J&S Hounslow, now currently Indian Gymkhana FC. The players and all those associated with the club became family and still are. Watching every game on weekends, come rain, snow or sun to then talking about it afterwards became a huge part of my weekly routine. I’m sure for many people this does not coincide with the norm of what a young Punjabi girl should be doing at my age, but that didn’t stop my family from sharing their own experiences with me.

 

……pushing the passion to the next level

The beginning of secondary school is where I really started progressing my passion for the game and made the decision of taking up football as a long-term commitment. Even thinking about it now, I am truly grateful to my PE teachers who put so much time and effort in me. I was trialing with Chelsea FC at 13 years of age, but lacked the experience and physicality, which was why I played for Middlesex County Girls to turn these weaknesses into strengths. I always believed in my ability but that’s not good enough, I needed someone else to believe in my potential too. It was then that I came across a coach at Brentford Ladies FC who weaned me in, and eventually becoming the youngest player at 16 years of age to be training with the first team.

Football has always been a passionate hobby, but education is still a priority of mine. I was able to go to University and complete a Science degree and at the same time play football with other like-minded quality players. I was training and competing alongside national level players which was exactly what I needed at this point, helping me progress into a player I am today.

During my last year of university I needed to decide where I wanted to take my football from here. I had a trial with QPR Ladies lined up and a Euro Championships tournament in Turkey to be looking forward to. Unfortunately, injuries got the best of me and it couldn’t have come at a worst time. I sustained a complete ACL rupture which pushed me back considerably for two years. Not being able to do what you love took its toll emotionally and I had to re-consider either starting again or packing football in and focusing on my career. Looking back, in a way this injury was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to take some time out of football and focus on pursuing another dream of mine, of becoming a Sports Physiotherapist (which I am still working towards).  However, I couldn’t have left football forever.

……if at first you don’t succeed, try again!

Last summer is when I thought I’d give it one last push. Being slightly ambitious in my approach I went along to trial for QPR Ladies, Tottenham Hotspurs  Ladies and Chesham United Ladies FC. Again, I had to decide whether I wanted to play for a name, or develop as a player and play matches consistently, which was why I decided to sign up for Chesham United Ladies FC as a defender. Never had I thought I would be receiving the best of both worlds, playing in the FA Women’s Premier League and still pursuing my career and training as a Physiotherapist.

It requires a lot of hard work and determination, which isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth it. Currently, I have no intentions of giving up football as long as my knees and ankles stay intact. And who knows, maybe one day this small town Punjabi girl will achieve her dreams.

 We would like to Thank Monica Sharma for sharing her experience with us and wish her all the best for the rest of the season.

Follow Monica Sharma on Twitter

Follow Chesham United Ladies FC

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

Why So Few Asians in Top Level Sport

Today on our blog we are asking that age old question. There is no doubt we have a stream of talented young Asians playing sport across the country, however most have still not broken through to that very top level.

Why?

My Biggest Influence In The Game

My message is that if you can show great strength in character, everything is doable

Manisha Tailor – Ambassador for BASTF

How I fell in love with the ‘beautiful game’

Since the age of 8 years old, my twin brother and I together ate, drank and breathed football – which at times Biggest Influence_small got us into quite some bother at school! Our parents were not always impressed with the lack of attention spent on our school work, as for us, spending time organising lunchtime matches was far more important – primary school was awesome! Joint at the hip, quite literally, until secondary school that is (mum and dad intentionally sent us to separate secondary schools) – our love for the game both playing and watching continued. He however, influenced by my dad, became a Liverpool follower – they never did manage to convert me, I am a Gooner through and through!  My twin – the reason I fell in love with the beautiful game we know as football. Continue reading

BASTF – How it all started!

I remember like it was yesterday – one cold day in October of last year sitting in Davinder’s office suffocated by the mass Manchester United memorabilia around me! In walked Davinder and like a devout pilgrim he visited his deities, Ryan Giggs and the Manchester United team of 99, before resuming normal behaviour! The frustration of my team’s poor performance in recent years was exacerbated within the confines of this “RED” office!

But this fierce rivalry was just light banter prior to our real reason for being in the office. Our desire and passion to see an Asian talent succeeding to the highest level of sport. We were in no doubt the talent was there, but why had no individual materialised on the scene? Continue reading