After weeks of anticipation, on Wednesday 24th February, The Henry Beaufort School hosted a special event. Rajeev Bagga, an ambassador for the charity UK Deaf Sports, visited the school to share his inspirational story and to provide fun badminton coaching sessions for some of the lucky students.
Rajeev Bagga is an acclaimed profoundly deaf sportsman in Badminton. He has won many competitions on an international level, most notably the Deaflympics where he is a five times gold medallist. It can be said that he is Deaf sport’s equivalent of Sir Steven Redgrave. His shelf at home must be piled with trophies and medals!
Sport leaders, G&T students, Year 8 Skills Base, the Hearing Impaired Centre of Excellence’s students, and students from local junior schools all were invited to the event taking place in the sports hall. They were particularly mesmerised by his presentation about his journey to success. He signed passionately of his background, growing up in India with supportive parents. He quickly ‘made his mark’ in the hearing sports circuits working his way up to the top, becoming the first deaf sportsman to win the Indian National championship in Badminton twice. Added to this experience, he went on to gain excellent success in Deaflympics, where deaf people compete from all over the world. He was even featured in the book ‘Courage Beyond Compare’ by S. Sharma and M.Sharma.
Rajeev highlighted the importance of stamina by explaining that jogging, skipping, hopping or swimming on different days can be a good way to build up stamina. ‘If/when one starts enjoying training sessions; this will automatically translate into better performance on court.’ He ended his enthusiastic presentation by emphasising that deaf and hearing networks are key to ‘meeting the needs of young people today; together we are stronger.’
After the presentation, students were fortunate to participate in a coaching session in Badminton. They learnt invaluable skills such as hand eye co-ordination, and working as a team. The coaching session was exciting with a range of different activities. The students were interested and engaged throughout. Disappointment could be seen on students’ faces when their sessions came to an end. Rajeev thanked every student for inviting him along to the school and gave them the advice to keep going, keep practising, and they perhaps will reach the same dizzy heights of success.
Students from the HI centre had an opportunity to meet deaf students from other schools over lunch. They all discussed their favourite moments of the day. Comments include, “My favourite thing is meeting Rajeev Bagga because he seems to be a really good Badminton player” (Taylor) “I found it really inspirational to hear about what he had achieved as a badminton player. When we played some games and did some sporting exercises I realised how much commitment you need to put in to achieve” (Lauren).
Henry Beaufort School will be providing a donation to UK Deaf Sports for Rajeev’s visit. They hold the belief that deaf athletes can achieve the same sporting success as hearing competitors.
After the event Rajeev Bagga told the school that ‘It was lovely to talk to your students about my life and provide some badminton lessons. I feel it is important that they have the opportunity to meet a famous star sportsman and to learn a sport to improve their health and fitness, as well as some fun challenges! I hope they all have dreams of being an athlete like me!’