Gokarn Ramdhani- The Badminton dad who put a premium on his children’s success

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A badminton player, a coach, a father, a family man, an advisor, a stickler for being on time, a well-travelled individual, a fun-loving guy and a comedian in his own rights.

The late Gokarn Ramdhani was more than just someone who was passionate about the importance of having a balance in sport and academics.

But that was his guiding principle as he worked diligently to ensure his children, Narayan and Priyanna, matched their excellence on the badminton court with success in the classroom.

The on-court exploits of Narayan and Priyanna are well documented, having dominated badminton at the local, regional and South American levels, and the siblings are now on a course to enhance their academic prowess.

The pathway to a higher education was created by their father, who secured both of them scholarships in Canada, while they still continued playing badminton.

As fate would have it, it was while residing with his children in Canada that he suffered a massive heart attack in October 2021, passing on two months shy of his 56th birthday.

He was a Council Member of the Guyana Olympic Association and the Caribbean Regional Badminton Confederation, the Second Vice-President of the Confederation of Central American and Caribbean Badminton, Owner/Head Coach of Yonex Badminton Club and Head Coach of Olds College in Canada.

On the occasion of Father’s Day 2022, News Room’s Avenash Ramzan spoke to Narayan and Priyanna, who reflected on the life of a man who put a premium on the success of his offspring.

Ramdhani was keen on ensuring his children balanced their sport and academic pursuits

Avenash Ramzan (AR): How would you describe your father?

Narayan Ramdhani (NR): My dad was a person who was all about family. He was always there for me and Priyanna anytime, as well as my mom. He was the first phone call I made whenever anything happened and he always answered right away.

He was always fun to be around until I don’t listen to him then he made me do chores. He would always call me every day when I was away from him and mom in Canada to find out what I was doing. He was all about us making sure we can become successful.

Priyanna Ramdhani (PR): My father was an extraordinary father and a man who took care of his family no matter what. He was a joyful and funny person who made jokes and he was the glue for our family.

He was the one to create family group chats to make sure everyone is in contact with each other and he loved to tell different stories about back in the days, such as when he would wake up in the morning, drink an egg and run to GuyBridge like he was ‘Rocky Balboa.’

He was also a man who was on time for every single event and he is the reason why my brother and I were able to excel in Badminton. He was always there for us and defended us no matter what. Family is always first and he made sure of that. He was a great coach and the best father.

A father and children moment at a function in Canada

AR: What was the most admirable thing about him and why?

NR: The most admirable thing about him was his fun-loving personality. I was told by my mom that dad is a very diplomatic person, meaning he can talk and relate to anyone.

I saw this first-hand on the many tournaments we went on, how he is able to make friends in a matter of seconds and then next thing you know we are having dinner with that person he just met.

PR: There are a lot of things I admire about my father- he was hard working, caring and he didn’t let anyone take advantage of him. I also admire how much he travelled and I want to be able to travel to the countries he did.

He travelled to over 20 countries where he touched down in each continent except Antarctica. With travelling comes experience and he knew how to handle situations well, which I admired.

Every time he travelled, he made sure he brought home a gift for my brother, mom and I, which shows how much he loved us.

From an early age Ramdhani instilled the values of discipline and hardwork in his children

AR: What was the best piece of advice he has given you?

NR: He has given me a lot of advice, but an advice that he was always on my case about is training hard. During COVID, every day he made me exercise before I ate.

Growing up, he had me training and staying fit so that I could be the best player. Even though we are a badminton family, he bought me a basketball hoop for my birthday so that I could practice when I was part of the Marian basketball team.

He wanted me to be successful in whatever I do.

PR: The best piece of advice my dad gave me was that I should never give up. He always told me that as an athlete, I should never give up and I should keep working towards my goal. I am extremely grateful to have had him by my side and I was able to receive the best pieces of advice.

Ramdhani (right) was the ultimate family man, as expressed by his children. His wife Emily is second from right

AR: How much has he impacted your life, both on the court and in the classroom?

NR: The guy impacted me in everything I do even on to now. Growing up all my winnings I did it for my dad. Even today I want to win and do well in school so that my dad could be happy.

PR: My dad motivated me to excel in badminton as well as in school. He trained me for tournaments and ensured I attended training camps to improve my level. He was always by my side whenever I needed him on and off court because I’m daddy’s little girl who he would pick up for.

He was also the reason I was able to receive a full scholarship for my college in Canada where I was able to graduate with distinction. He would mention to me at times that he hopes I’m studying and passing my exams and I tried my best just for him.

Priyanna Ramdhani (left) and Narayan Ramdhani

AR: What is the one trait of your father that you have inherited?

NR: One trait I inherited from my dad is the love of badminton. I can’t see myself doing anything else in my life, but badminton- playing and coaching just like him.

The love him and I have for the game it’s very high. I have a shuttle hanging in my car now just like him and I even went one step further than him and got a tattoo of a shuttle.

My dad never got one because he was scared of needles (lol). But the love of the game is the main thing I inherited from him and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep Guyana moving forward in badminton.

PR: One trait I inherited from my father is his tenacity. He was very determined and he made sure that he got all of his work done on time and he was successful in what he was doing.

He always knew what he wanted and once he set his mind to finish something, or achieve something, he did.

I miss him very much and I wish that he was still here with us today.

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