Oct 13, 2021 Sports
I have known Gokarn since we were teens
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News – President of the Guyana Badminton Association (GBA) and National Coach Gokarn Ramdhani died from a heart attack just after he returned at his home in Canada after playing Badminton on Saturday. He was 55.
Gokarn was a Council Member-Guyana Olympic Association (GOA), Council Member-Caribbean Regional Badminton Confederation (CAREBACO), Vice President Communications-Badminton Pan American Confederation (BPAC), 2nd Vice President-Confederation Central American and Caribbean Badminton (CONCECABA).
He leaves to morn his wife Emily, the Secretary of GBA and his two children, Guyana and Caribbean Badminton champions Narayan and Priyanna who are on scholarship in Canada.
The East Bank Demerara resident, a former Guyana junior and senior player, has spent all of his adult life involved in Badminton from the time he first picked up a racquet at Queens College in 1980.
He was always ambitious and moved to Canada for his children to have the opportunity to compete at a high level and eventually earned a job as the Head Coach of Olds College in Canada.
“I love Badminton and that’s why I am still involved at a National level. Badminton is in our entire family. Playing a bit also gives me exercise but now most of my attention is focused on Coaching,” said Ramdhani.
In 2008, at ripe age of 43 Gokarn won the National Men’s Open, prompting him to say,
“While I would like to think that I am still good enough, the fact that I won the National Open title when I was 43 shows that we are not heading in the right direction at the senior level.
When I was much younger we had players like Sean Barnwell, Peter Perone, Billy Holder and Grandison Robinson who were all top players at the Caribbean level and Guyana dominated the region.
Most of the players drop out once they finish the junior level now and the distractions are far more than in my time.
It’s disappointing to see how hard players, who have just finished the junior level, drink and party and show little commitment to the sport,” Ramdhani lamented.
“We partied also but we also trained hard and were proud to represent our country and do well. I understand this problem is not only a Badminton issue but one which is affecting many other sports in Guyana…its maybe a cultural thing among today’s youth,” Ramdhani opined.
“On the distaff side, players like Corrine Thomas, Amanda Lowe, Sharon Latchman Singh and Nichola Devers were among the good junior players in the 1980s,” added Gokarn.
Gokarn believes the University of Guyana schedule is also a reason for not more players playing seriously at the senior level. He was the only Level 3 Badminton Coach in the in Guyana.
Those were inserts from the last interview I did with Gokarn who is gone too soon. It’s frightening how many people I knew personally have died in the last month.
I first met Gokarn as a teenager, he was four years older than I was and he was one of senior players at Yonnex Badminton Club.
My sister was a player, while Cricketer Glen Robinson’s brother also played there and Glen and I would go there during the rainy season and ‘knock up’ with the players to keep in shape since both of us were members of the Guyana U-19 team at that time.
I remember living three houses from Emily in Peter’s Hall on the East Bank just after I had gotten married and after Gokarn married Emily we became friends.
It was at Badminton that I met Sean Barnwell and Coreen Thomas who were the Caribbean Men and Women’s champions and became friends with Amada Lowe, Sharon Lathmansingh and many others of whom I am still friends with today.
I remember after a Badminton session at Queen’s College when Narayan and Priyanna were much younger, rain was pouring and they were taking two players home and seven of us squeezed into the car, some of us soaking wet.
I have seen his two kids grow up from babies and there are some who say Gokarn was in the sports because of his Kids, but he had been coaching long before his kids even started playing Badminton.
Gokarn reminds me of one my closest friends, Neezam Hafiz. Neezam was my captain at Primary School, Malteenoes, Demerara and Guyana in cricket.
Neezam died when the World Trade Centre in New York was destroyed.
Neezam was always full of himself and had super neat hairstyle and a ‘Star Boy’ look, the same as Gokarn.
Since he moved to Canada we have drifted apart but he would call or Facebook me when his kids did well for me to write about it in the papers.
Gokarn was a wonderful Ambassador for Badminton but he was also a person who changed the lives of many young Boys and Girls and very proud father.
Narayan and Priyanna, when you guys win medals, your dad would be smiling down on you and boasting to those over the ‘other side’ that I taught them to do that.
RIP Gokarn…gone but not forgotten.
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