HHJ-student Paniz Yousefi is one of the finalists at Idrottsgalan

Paniz Yousefi, student at the orthopedic engineers programme at School of health and welfare, is one of the finalists to become Årets Peppare 2021 at Idrottsgalan. Tonight, January 18th pm 8:00 it will be decided if the HHJ-student with her dedication in parabadminton, Parallel Play, wins the award.

Tonight, is the night. The HHJ-student, and the president of JUSA, Paniz Yousefi is one of the finalists to become Årets Peppare at Idrottsgalan and has with her dedication in parabadminton chance to win the award. Paniz´ project Parallel Play is about starting up parabadminton around Sweden with hope to create organized associations all around the country where people no matter physical or mental disabilities can practice, develop and get a chance to compete, both domestic and international.

Generation Pep hands out the award Årets Peppare, together with Riksidrottsförbundet, to a specific leader, organization, association or initiative who in an including and available way contributes to make kids and youths move. Prince Daniel and Carolina Klüft are two of the jury members.

Paniz, what would it mean for Parallel Play and parasport if you win tonight?

It means a lot! Incredibly cool to be selected as a finalist but to win would be indescribable. Just the thought makes me speechless! It warms to see how our work have attracted the attention of so many people. I never thought I would get this far or succeed so big in just one year. I am very happy and overwhelmed by the development I have have been involved in creating together with amazing people around me, especially during a pandemic like this. I am extremely grateful to be nominated for such a great award as ”Årets Peppare” which is ”Change-maker of the Year”. This award shows that Swedish parabadminton is growing, can take its place and that does not take long until we will see an obvious inclusion in many more associations around the country.

Do you have any competition or winning gesture?

I always have a special playlist that I usually listen to just before a competition. In general in life, my life motto is from the one and only Rocky Balboa ”It aint about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

If you win tonight, how will you celebrate?

Under the current circumstances, it will be difficult to celebrate big. Studying full time and holding several projects and initiatives gives me many sleepless nights, so for me, it will be to eat something good and take it easy with the family in Uppsala or with my roommate Tina in Jönköping.

As a coach for kids and youths you turn into a role model. When you were younger and practiced, how important was it for you to have a role model?

Jens Eriksson was my first coach and one of Sweden’s best badminton coaches and tutors. He was a great role model for me and I have taken after a lot that he stands for. All I know today is thanks to Jens! For me, it was extremely important to have a role model because my role model gave me courage and strength to believe in myself and dare to do what I believe in. The support I received led me to continue my journey as a coach and dared me to start new projects and initiatives. Today, I work, among other things, as an international badminton tutor for future coaches precisely because I think role model’s set the standard for our athletes in the future. All coaches are role models for their athletes, where children and young people or adults always follow the coach’s advice. A good role model should also guide the practitioner’s “mindset” and not just sport related technique.

Which qualities would you say are the most important when it comes to being a role model in the sports?

As a role model, you should be able to see each individual and their personal development. It is important to always set a good example and be able to show the common joy in their sport. The role model should be able to make everyone feel seen and heard in order to have a good relationship with their athletes to gain their trust. You should be able to show that anything is possible and nothing can stop them from being the BEST!

Do you have any quotes or sayings that you use often as a sports leader?

There is no such thing as I can not or it is not possible. This is only something you tell and convince yourself. By making the athlete believe in himself/herself during the exercise, trust and self-confidence in the athlete is strengthened when he/she manages it. As a coach, you should ALWAYS be active throughout the whole training session.

What are your hopes for 2021 when it comes to Parallel Play?

The goal of Parallel Play is to have established special and para badminton training groups in all badminton clubs in Sweden. We hope to inspire other sport clubs that have not started their journey in parasport to begin. The ultimate goal for Parallel Play is to be able to represent with a Swedish national team at the Paralympics and the Special Olympic World Games. Today we have managed to have training groups in Uppsala, Stockholm, Jönköping and Sundsvall. In 2021, we hope to be able to start training groups in another 4 cities at the same time as the existing ones grow and become bigger.

Last but not least, what is your best advice to everyone who wants to try a new sport, but who doesn’t have the courage?

Bring a friend you are comfortable with and wants to try the new sport with. The worst thing that can happen is that you have been through a new experience, but that may not have been something for you. Plan something really fun you will look forward to afterwards to reward yourself with.

The award Årets Peppare will be handed out tonight at Idrottsgalan, which will be live streamed on SVT1 and SVT Play PM 8:00.

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