Sport for Life is thrilled to announce that Rishav Sharma, a Para-badminton powerhouse and coach from Fort St. John, will be sharing his insights into the culture of sport during the 2023 Sport for Life Summit in Prince George on April 14 and 15. Speaking to an audience of quality sport and physical literacy enthusiasts, he will showcase how his life has been impacted by badminton, his intersectional identity and his life as an immigrant.
“We are so thrilled that Rishav has agreed to speak at the Sport for Life Summit in Prince George, because he embodies so many of the ideals that we’re trying to mobilize in northern B.C.,” said Kim Feragen, Manager of Marketing & Athlete Coach Services at Engage Sport North, the host partner for the Prince George event.
“During his talk, delegates will be taken on a journey from his promising beginnings in India all the way to his impressive accomplishments here in Canada. All along the way he displayed a single-mindedness and dedication that can’t help but inspire everyone in attendance. He shows us that it’s not about the obstacles you face, but about the strength you find within yourself to overcome them.”
From India to Fort St. John
When Sharma first immigrated to Fort St. John in northern B.C., having grown up in India, one of his first priorities was to find a competitive badminton community so that he could continue playing the sport he’d excelled at in his home country. He was accustomed to training eight hours a day during competition season and wanted to maintain his abilities at that level – so when he discovered there was no club that could provide that, he simply created one himself, launching the Peace Region Badminton Club in 2019.
“The biggest obstacle was I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know who to reach out to because I also didn’t go to Canadian schools, and I didn’t know how things worked. So I kind of did my own research and started looking into other small communities in Canada,” said Sharma.
“Then after that I started reaching out to school principals in Fort St. John, coming up with the idea. I also gave them my resume showing them what I have achieved and my athlete experience, and I’d also done the badminton coaching certifications as well with Badminton BC. I told them I would like to start this program in the city for the kids.”
Sharma had previously attended the BC Winter Games in Kamloops, where he had been named a supervisor of the competition. It dawned on him that all of the participants were from Prince George, with not a single one coming from Fort St. John. That inspired him to build the sport within his community, empowering approximately 35 youth to get involved and compete at a higher level.
“These kids don’t have a platform or guidance, and there might be some kids who love badminton and they might be really good. But if they don’t know where to start and where to learn, then there is no point for them. They will not get any opportunity to at least give it a try,” he said.
According to Sharma, the majority of the badminton community currently revolves around Vancouver, Kelowna and Kamloops. Sharma hopes that despite its northern isolation, Fort St. John can begin to make its presence known by offering balanced facilities with high-achieving athletes, then hosting tournaments and inviting other clubs from the southern part of the province to experience it for themselves.
On top of his work with the club, Sharma continues to be an accomplished Para-badminton player. While working as a finance billing clerk for the city and a personal trainer for a gym, he’s also made the Para-badminton world rankings with a 28th place finish in 2022.
Ultimately for him, it comes down to passion.
“I would say personally, my experience is if you love something, whatever the situation is, no matter where you are and even if out of 1,000 people you’re the only person who loves that thing, if you keep loving it and keep doing that thing that you’re good at, then that’s your passion,” he said.
“You have to set your goal to the end, and that goal should never be finished. Once you reach step one, then you need to continue to the next step the day right after that. As a newcomer to Canada I have been through tough times, because as a student I had to pay my tuition while working 20 hours a week and I had to make sure I was not getting away from my passion and that was a real struggle.”
- India 2011 – 2014: Became National Champion in Junior Para-badminton National Games (Banglore, Orissa and Chennai)
- April 2017: Gold medal in badminton in the under 23 age group in the general category of the Northern Circuit Badminton Tournament in Prince George
- August 2017: Gold medal in the singles event at the B.C. Championship in Vancouver, ranked number 1 in all B.C. in Para-badminton
- September 2017: Number 1 position in the National Para-badminton Games in Vancouver
- October 2017: Bronze medal in the USA International Para-badminton Tournament
- April 2018: Three gold medals at the Northern Circuit Badminton Tournament
- September 2018: Represented Canada in Japan Para-badminton International Games (Tokyo)
- May 2019: Represented Canada in Para-badminton International Games (Ottawa).
- April 2022: Represented Canada in Brazil Para-badminton International series (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
- October 2022: Represented Canada in BWF Para-badminton World Championship (Tokyo, Japan)