British Cycling is committed to promoting inclusivity in coaching opportunities and fostering diversity within the coaching workforce across the nation.
In 2021, we introduced the Total Scholarship Programme, which offers funded and supported pathways for individuals from underrepresented groups to inspire and encourage participation in cycling. These scholarships are essential for the future of the sport, providing life-changing opportunities for aspiring coaches to accelerate their development and the growth of cycling.
We recently caught up with Shahina Chandoo, a 19-year-old scholar, to learn more about their scholarship journey...
"In 2022, I was incredibly honored to be awarded the British Cycling and Total Computers Coaching Scholarship. My coaching journey began when I was just sixteen, initially focusing on working with my local cycle hub and Evolve Cycling Network, a cycling club where I dedicated my efforts to teaching women and young girls. As a young Hijabi, I found myself coming from a significantly different background within the sport. Initially, my lack of knowledge and expertise left me feeling nervous and uncertain. However, my concerns were quickly alleviated.
At the program's launch event in January 2022, I was filled with anticipation. I knew that many of the participants already had extensive experience, not only in coaching but also in the racing world. This led to feelings of imposter syndrome, as it seemed like I had a long way to catch up. Thankfully, everyone was incredibly welcoming and willing to address my questions. I was thrilled to discover that I was not alone in coming from a non-racing background.
In February 2022, my cycling club, Evolve Cycling Network, achieved a significant milestone by establishing the first Muslim and female-led Go Ride Club. This was a monumental step, not just for me and my community, but also for introducing cycling as a competitive sport to the next generation, which had not been done before. During the launch event in Manchester, I had the opportunity to learn more about the talent development program and receive advice and guidance from experienced coaches on structuring our program to prepare riders for the talent development initiative. Today, our club proudly trains sixty children.
Over the next few years, I seized every opportunity that came my way, including supporting the National School of Racing, assisting at the School Games, and even traveling to the World Cycling Centre in Switzerland a few months ago. By completing coaching courses, I have honed my skills in various cycling disciplines and am now certified as a Road & Time Trial, Cyclocross, BMX, and Track coach.
The Total Computers Scholarship holds immense significance for me as it has provided me access to opportunities I could only have dreamed of. It has opened countless doors, allowed me to form valuable connections, and exposed me to unique experiences. Additionally, it has unveiled new career prospects that I had not previously considered.
Currently, I am pursuing my studies at university and continue to participate in as many training camps and development opportunities as possible. Recently, my focus has been on supporting para-cycling, where I have been able to apply my knowledge in a different context, as para-cycling significantly differs from able-bodied cycling. Looking ahead, my aspiration is to become a professional coach, with a particular emphasis on working with young athletes, an area where I believe my skills are best suited.
My ultimate goal is to witness a Hijabi athlete standing on the podium, representing Team GB. I understand that there is a long journey ahead, but I hope that by seeing individuals like myself and others wearing the hijab in the cycling industry, it will inspire other young girls to have the courage to compete and develop their skills."