Rukhshona Narzulloeva: From Athlete to Asia's Elected BWF Council Member
At the 82nd BWF Annual General Meeting (AGM) held virtually on the 22nd of May 2021, 20 Council members were elected which included 8 representatives from Asia. One of the 8 members elected is Rukhshona Narzulloeva from Tajikistan.
Prior to becoming a BWF Council Member, Rukhshona played badminton for a while at university, where she got 2 champion titles in her home country. After her playing days, she went on to become an Executive and Administrative Coordinator at Tajikistan Badminton Federation where she organizes tournaments, hosts workshops for staff and athletes, helps coordinate activities in women’s badminton in Tajikistan, and more.
Badminton Asia (BA) previously had the pleasure of interviewing her, in which we profiled her and the Badminton Federation of Tajikistan on ‘Tajikistan’s Fight for Gender Equity in Badminton’. In this interview, Rukhshona shared with us her personal journey in badminton, the challenges and gender stereotypes in the badminton community in Tajikistan, and also initiatives taken that will include greater inclusivity in the region.
This time as Rukhshona steps into a new direction in her life, Badminton Asia interviews her again and gets an insight into how she feels from being an athlete to becoming a BWF Council Member and what goals she has with the position she’s in now.
Badminton Asia (BA): How does it feel to be one of Asia's elected BWF Council Members?
Rukhshona Narzulloeva (RN): It is a great honor and an utmost privilege. Yet it is a great responsibility too. Months of preparation. Countless hours of anxiety. Many sleepless nights with hundreds of thoughts overwhelming my mind. It has been a great adventure indeed. Honestly, there have been moments when my faith was about to fade and crumble. Being one of the two pioneer nominees from the Post-Soviet region, a first-ever candidate from Central Asia in the list – it all has put some subconscious pressure on me, that was something I had to take control over while running my pre-election campaign.
There is a popular business quote saying: “Strong people don't put others down... They lift them.” It is worth mentioning that Badminton Asia always supports enthusiastic women to uncover their potential and gives women opportunities to move up in their career path. So I was very blessed to receive support from established leaders and true visionaries including the President of Badminton Asia Mr. Anton Subowo, Badminton Asia Treasurer Mr. Jassem Kanso, other Badminton Asia leaders, President of Tajikistan Badminton Federation Kabir Jurazoda, and many other colleagues and partners who uplifted my spirit at the time of the need.
I can summarize my post-election feelings in three words:
BA: Is being a Council Member something you’ve always wanted to be?
RN: It would be fair to say that the position of BWF’s Council Member was way too inconceivable even for a dream. But I’ve always had two big passions in my life: badminton and gender equality. So, while paving my way toward attaining success in both directions mentioned, I have been exploring opportunities. The first step towards my dream was my appointment in March 2019 to the position of Executive Officer of Tajikistan Badminton Federation. It was great confidence and opportunity, for which I am grateful to the head of our federation. And I want to note that I learned a lot over these two years. But when the President of Tajikistan Badminton Federation suggested my candidacy, that's where the picture of my "unthinkable" dreams started to shape.
BA: How will your experience as an athlete impact your work as a Council Member?
RN: It is a very good question indeed. Indisputably, my experience as a badminton player positively impacts my work vision at BWF Council. To illustrate my point, let me bring a symbolic example. You would never want to board an aircraft operated by a pilot who has never had the experience of flying a plane before, right? So this emphasizes the paramount importance of having first-hand experience in whatever professional path you embark upon.
So, my player’s experience and study of other badminton development programs helped me fully understand badminton as a game while numerous community grassroots projects we implemented under Badminton Tajikistan and Badminton Asia umbrellas honed my understanding of badminton as a force for good. Speaking of the second pillar of my credo – gender equality and non-violence. I come from a country where tackling gender inequality is on the list of country priorities so I do feel this problem too.
BA: As a BWF Council Member, how are you planning on continuing the fight for gender equity?
RN: First of all, I will now see the big picture, expanding my vision from the perspective of a BWF Council Member. Having a good understanding of the root causes of gender discrimination, I will try my best to develop safeguarding mechanisms to put them into action in the most vulnerable countries.
The second is ensuring there is always a gender component in all BWF’s policy and program work.
Last but not least, I would like to encourage special public-private partnerships dedicated to tackling gender issues in those countries with the lowest gender equity index.
BA: As a council member, what are your top goals?
RN: As per my campaign vision, I would like to work on my FREE vision:
F – Focus. Increase the track focus on BWF’s agenda delivering the objectives at a pace
R – Reforms. Catalyze reforms aimed at promoting badminton globally.
E – Equality. Champion zero-tolerance policy for gender discrimination in badminton
E – Enlightenment. Drive the grassroots-level popularization of badminton through the angle of its social value.
Rukhshona’s journey has been remarkable to witness. From being a player, to getting involved with the Tajikistan Badminton Federation, and now as a member of the BWF Council. All of these having been achieved through her incredible work and drive. Badminton Asia wishes her all the best of luck. We hope that all the goals that she has planned as a BWF Council Member will be achieved, in order to make badminton a better sport for everyone.