Badminton, Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Sarah Asfar, a student at Haukilahti General Upper Secondary School, is a successful badminton player
Sarah Asfar, a student at Haukilahti General Upper Secondary School, is a successful badminton player who represents Tapiolan Sulka, but also motivated about school.
She first got the spark for the game when playing badminton with her father in the garden, and this quickly evolved into goal-oriented training and competitions. However, despite being highly competitive, Sarah emphasises the importance of working together and maintaining a positive mood. Afterall, without these she would not be able to cope with the long days, filled with studies and training, aiming towards the very top. Sarah was still in primary school when she progressed on to the competitive level, and before that, her hobbies also included ice skating and swimming.
The cheerful young athlete comes from Espoo, where she lives with her family. Sarah’s parents are from India, and they moved to Finland before she was born in 2004. Her father has had a major influence in her career in badminton: in addition to supporting her professionally, he has spent a lot of time over the years training with her. Their home is always busy, and in addition to Finnish, the family also speak English and Hindi. Sarah completed her entire comprehensive education in English, and she has also studied French, which has been useful on tournament trips in Europe.
Actually, French is one of the subjects that Sarah intends to focus on in her matriculation examinations, although her main interests include mathematical fields. Therefore, she will take her exams in physics, mathematics and psychology, in addition to the compulsory subjects of mother tongue and English. Sarah says that aside from professional sports, she is interested in studying either mathematics, physics or potentially some form of engineering at the university level. She plans to complete her general upper secondary studies in 3.5 years, which gives a bit more flexibility to her weekly schedules.
Combining school and sport is challenging, but by no means impossible. In addition to flexible studies and study credits received from morning training sessions, her school provides students with support. As an example, Sarah says that the school’s sports coordinator is a helpful person to talk to, as they can assist students in combining their studies and sports. Sarah has found a study method and rhythm that suit her; if she concentrates during class, she does not have to do so much at home, although sometimes she must choose between school and training to maintain balance. Sarah also emphasises the importance of getting enough sleep in order to cope, and advises other students to go to bed early instead of staying up on their phones. Furthermore, good nutrition plays a major role in an athlete’s ability to keep going, and Sarah says she is thankful to her mother for all the delicious home-cooked meals she makes.
Sarah says that her days are filled with studies and training, which makes them long, but she always enjoys going to the training court thanks to the great atmosphere there. Sarah represents Tapiolan Sulka and mostly trains at Tapiola Esport Center. Lasse Lindelöf and Joona Lepistö serve as the club’s coaches, in addition to which Sarah has begun to receive training from Anu Nieminen and Jaana Mäkelä as well. Sarah has made plenty of friends through badminton, and the club is like a second family to her – small wonder considering how much time she spends at the courts. She trains 12 times a week, including complementary training, and also coaches younger badminton players twice a week.
According to Sarah, her best memories from sports include playing in the European Badminton Championships in 2017 and 2019. She aims to progress from the national juniors’ team to the adult team, and her dream is to make it to the BWF World Tour and win a medal at the European Championships. On her way towards an international career, Sarah has been sponsored by the racket game equipment retailer sulkakauppa.fi, but going forward she will need to find other partners in order to go on tours. In addition to top-level international competitions, Sarah enjoys competing at home. Playing at home also involves certain routines, such as traditional foods: Karelian pasties and proper hot chocolate made into milk, something that she cannot have when competing abroad.
Text by Oona Uusitalo, Laurea amk.
In Espoo there are excellent opportunities to combine studies and a career in sports. Find you own school with sports line and get to know URHEA -The Helsinki Metropolitan Area sports academy. Read more about Sport Schools.(external link)
- General Upper Secondary Education
- Haukilahden lukio
- Growth and Learning