Ashwathi Pillai - Chasing My Dream

by Administrator26. December 2014 00:00


Ashwathi Pillai - Chasing My Dream





Ashwathi is certainly a prominent and one highly talented young player in Sweden today; with great racket skills andfitness.  She trains approx. 15 hours of badminton every week including 4 individual coaching sessions.  Recognising her talent, her school (IES,Täby) has re-organized her school time table to help her receive adequate training and time to compete in Sweden and abroad.

Her school ensures regular interactions with the club and the coaches to ensure and track Ashwathi’s progress. She was also spotted and selected by Københavns Badminton Klub to represent the club in the domestic tournaments in Denmark.

Ashwathi also trains in the prestigious “Prakash Padukone Academy” in India every summer for 1 month.  The students in this academy are coached by Prakash Padukone (Former world no.1 and All England champion) , Vimal Kumar (former international player) and Yousuf Johari (Indonesian coach)

Ashwathi is the youngest player to qualify to compete in the Swedish elite (Senior) tournaments.  She regularly features in the local news paper and the club website.  Ashwathi is the cover girl of the current Täby Sports magazine.  Ashwathi is the current Swedish  U15 National Champion (singles)and ranked No.1 in Women singles in the U15 category.  She is also a regular competitor in the Swedish elite (Senior) tournaments where she is ranked No.10


Tell us about your days in India. Schooling

I was born in India and did my schooling until 4th Grade in Bangalore (National Public School).

How were you introduced to Badminton?

I used to accompany my father to the HSR Badminton club in Bangalore during weekends. He used to play for 1-2 hrs and then I would get an opportunity to play for 30 mins. That is where it started and I started liking the sport. Later I joined a coaching session for children where I had few of my friends also joining.

Was it your parents or you who felt that you have good future in badminton?

It was my parents who encouraged me into badminton.  My mother used to take me 3 times a week in an auto rickshaw to the club which was around 5 kms away from home .  I am not sure of how good my future will be , but I am definite that I enjoy playing badminton and I have a lot of friends because of it.

Tell us about some of the famous tournaments you played?

I played the,

  • Swedish National Tournaments
  • European 8 Nations
  • Danish Junior international
  • Glasgow International Junior championship
  • Finnkampen in Helsinki
  • Elite tournaments for seniors in Sweden




Ashwathi Vinod Pillai of class 8d, for being named Player of the Year in Badminton 2012





Was there any unforgettable experience in any of those?

In many of these , I am one of the youngest players in the tournament. It’s a great feeling when I wear the Swedish National team jersey and play for Sweden. It’s very energizing when I have my friends cheering with the national flag from the sidelines.

Winning my 1st national championship was the one of the best experience. It was in Kista racket center . The announcer was very energetic when he announced my name to receive the prize and he was looking at my dad. My dad had tears in his eyes. I also had a family friend of us (Dhar family) who came to support me. It was a wonderful experience.


Did you get a chance to play with any other Indian Players?

Yes, I practice every year for 3 weeks in Prakash Padukone Academy in Bangalore. And I get to play with some of the best players in India. Also I practiced a lot with Sayali Ghokale during her contract with Täby Badminton.



From your busy schedule of tournaments and schools , what else do you do when you get free time?

I like to bake cakes. I do it when ever I get some time. My brother also encourages me to bake since he likes it. I also watch some programs on Internet

How do your teachers and students co-operate with you at school , when you are busy with tournaments?

I think I have the best possible school (IES,Täby) ever. The teachers are more than happy to help me in my studies, since I miss a lot of school sessions due to my practice and tournaments.

My school has helped me in reorganizing my time table to suit my practice. I get around 6 hrs of time from school for extra practice. The school has organized an extra tutorial for me to catch up with the lessons.

My classmates are very sweet, they understand my situation and are always willing to support especially in the group assessments.



U13 player Ashwathi Pillai won the A-class in Gothenburg - Taby BM - Badminton 


Who are the people you admire in the badminton world and outside?

I am definitely inspired by Carolina Marin (the new world champion). She is my idol. She has proven that it is possible for a non-chinese and especially an European to be a world champion.

Outside badminton, I admire Deepika padukone a lot. I meet her father (Prakash Padukone) during my 3 weeks practice in Bangalore.

Is Sweden a better place for kids to develop their talents?

I can’t compare because I have not played /practiced  a lot outside Sweden. But I think the club culture in Sweden helps a lot to develop talent. 



 Swedish Olympic committee’s  camp which had 110 participants from various sports. 



Achievements in Tournaments

   Gold Medalist of 2013 Swedish National Championship (SM) U13 in WS.

   Youngest player to qualify for the Swedish Elite competition and compete against the top elite players.

   Gold medalist of 2014 Swedish National Championship (SM) U15 in WS

   Gold medalist of the Glasgow International open in women singles U15 category    

   Gold medalist of Elit/U19 Uppsala 2014 in Women singles 

   Gold medalist of GotElit 2014 in women singles in U17

   Currently ranked No. 1 in women singles U15 and 16th in women elite singles.

Awards & Recognitions 

   Awarded the Prestigious Player of the year (Girls Junior) 2012-2013 in Stockholm with prize money

   Awarded the BENGT ERIK HOIJERS stipendium for 2013 with prize money

   Youngest player to qualify for the Swedish Elite class tournaments

   Regularly features on the local news papers and Club website

   Regularly features in the website of “Internationella Engelska Skolan, Täby”


Latest news :

   Ashwathi is been invited by the Swedish Olympic Committee (SÖK) to be part of the Olympic youth program.

   Ashwathi has qualified to play the Swedish Masters Challenge International tournament. This is Ashwathi’s 1st step in the senior international circuit.

   Ashwathi has been chosen by the Swedish Olympic committee to be part of the youth camp for the next 3 years.This objective of this camp is to prepare the players for the 2020 olympics and onwards.

   Few top corporates and sports equipment manufacturers are in discussion with Ashwathi about sponsoring her sports activities for 2015 and onwards

   Ashwathi has been given admission into the National Sports gymnasium for badminton.

   Interview in Mitt i Taby 




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Experience India - My 1st Onam Celebrations – Jennifer Sandström

by Administrator30. December 2013 00:00

Jennifer hails from Gällivare currently living in India , she is an incurable dreamer in love with life. She just finished her internship at an IT company in Kochi, within Sales and Marketing , now setting off for new adventures. Jennie tells her experience about the wonderful Onam celebrations she had at her office in Kochi


 Onam was celebrated in grand way at my office Brigde Global IT Staffing. We were all dressed up according to the Indian traditional way, the women dressed in saris and men dressed in Mundus.




This is most of my colleagues here in India. The artwork on the ground in front of us, it's floral artwork can be seen everywhere these Onam times (and even in the grocery store that is so small and tight, they put out these flower leaves on the floor). It is to welcome the king who according to the saga comes to visit his land once a year.

So this is why Kerala is celebrating Onam and it is one of the biggest festivals here, comparable to Christmas I guess.On the main day of celebration everyone is free from work, and eat lots of food (Onasadya) with their loved ones.


This is Shintu and Aswathi, two colleagues that I work very close to. They are part of our marketing team.



The foreigners. This is the two Germans who just started their internship at the Bridge and whom I also live with, Judith to the left and Moritz to the right, next to me.


This is the dance they perform on Onam and it was very beautiful. Indians love to dance and sing, and I love it! Would you like to see a little video clip that I shot of the dance, you can do it here


Then, it was time for food. We hung out at the balcony on the roof of the office and they rolled out long mats for us to have the food at. Then they ran around and served 'Onasadya' or 'meals' as they are normally called, on the big banana leaves. It's a very classical type of dish here; lots of little dips, all vegetarian, with rice and pappadam (a crunchy 'fried' bread). You can eat as much food as you like and it’s very yummy.



The Indian women are so incredibly beautiful in their saris. I feel mostly like I’m a wannabe who is just imitating, I don’t feel like I’m supposed to wear this kind of dress. The saris in bright colors matched with golden jewelry looks stunning when the Indian women wear them with their black hair and dark skin tone – I watched them with envy.


Getting dressed sari is an art - not even all the women here know how to do it. I think most Indians find it very comfy to wear, and I might look so at first glance – but I found it very hot and when walking in the stairs it was really just in my way. But in summary I found it a nice experience and I’m glad to get the opportunity to take part in real Indian celebrations like Onam. 


Read my adventures in India here :

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Through the roots of India - Malin Mendel Westberg

by Administrator12. December 2013 05:18


Malin was born in Göteborg where she completed her Journalist education and Studies in International relations. She travelled to many Asian countries like Burma, Nepal , Thailand and Sri Lanka for various Swedish channels like SVT, Swedish Radio and TV4. 

From 2005, she is working with SVT as a foreign correspondent in India, where she produce news and other programs as well as documentaries. She covered the violent gang rape incident happened in Delhi during Dec 2012. 

Currently she lives half a year in India so tripping between Stockholm and Goa with her husband  and 2 kids.  

Malin's roots to South Asia started from her childhood days when her father was working for Volvo at Lahore. In her new book Bombay Take Away she explores India through food. 

Why India ? 

When I first came to India in 2005 it was a feeling of home-coming since so many colors and flavors reminded me of Pakistan from my childhood. I could also notice a strong demand from Swedish media for coverage of India, so it was a good place for me to work from. After some time I also learnt that India has so many stories to tell that are exciting to the rest of the world and it is a great place to explore as a journalist. People are very nice and of course I also love the food. 

How do you balance your life in Stockholm and in India? 

Both places gives me valuable experiences since Sweden and India are very different, so the whole family learn a lot about the world as well as about ourselves being part of the two cultures. 

Does your childhood aquitance to Indian food and culture made you write 'Bombay Take away'? 

Yes, but also the fact that food is so important for the identity of people in India and so diverse, so almost everything in the society can be told through food I think. 

Is there any plans to have the book in English for Indian market? 

Yes my publisher is working on that, and I really hope it will reach the Indian public soon. 

Stockholm still don’t have an authentic Indian restaurant , did you mention that to Shanti Restaurant owners during the book launch there? 

No I think Shanti has very good food, and the owner has also started a Bengali restaurant to highlight his own roots, and he recently won the title of Best Bengali restaurant outside UK, in the British Curry awards. 

What do you cook at home when you are in India?

 I cook bhendi masala fry, fish curry, yellow dal fry, veg curry, kicheri, rogan josh, kebabs, chicken masala, channa masala, chapati, palao, fisk tikka and many more. 


Malin joins with Lakshmi and talks about Food , Report from India

Event :  Spice Root to India , Stockholm

Photo : India Unlimited

Event :  India Unlimited Launch, Stockholm

Photo : India Unlimited



Event :  Book launch at Shanti Restaurant , Stockholm


Buy Bombay Take Away




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