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ACG Sunderland’s multi-talented karate champion

A holistic education involves far more than academics, and at ACG Sunderland, students are encouraged to embrace all aspects of school life, from sporting and artistic endeavours to extracurricular activities and community service. Juggling multiple commitments is not always easy, but top scholar and karate champion Savera Sidhu (Year 9) wouldn’t have it any other way. 
ACG Sunderland’s multi-talented karate champion

Self-discipline, perseverance and resilience are just a few of the attributes developed through sport and for ACG Sunderland’s Savera Sidhu, they play a vital role in contributing to her ongoing success.

The high-achieving 14-year-old is not only an exemplary academic student, but she’s also a karate champion with an array of medals to her name, including gold at the 2022 New Zealand Cup. Since taking up the discipline in 2016, Savera has gone from strength to strength. Currently a brown-black belt, she aims to complete her black belt grading in early 2023 and will soon be setting her sights on the global stage.

“I initially started karate to learn self-defence, but after some encouragement from my parents and the sensei (coach), I began participating in tournaments. I won silver at my first tournament in 2018 and have been competing ever since. I aim to start competing on an international level in the next couple of years,” she says.

Savera enters four or five regional and national tournaments annually and has enjoyed a podium finish at every competition so far. Although not always with the medal she pinned her hopes upon.

“Last month, I competed in Auckland Open and Auckland Schools Championships 2022 and won a silver in kata. Unfortunately, I lost the gold medal due to a technical error I made, which was devastating, but I’ve learnt from my mistake.”

Overall though, 2022 has been a hugely beneficial experience for the multi-talented athlete, allowing her to showcase her growth and increasing abilities. And a first-place finish at last weekend's Northland Cup was the perfect way to wrap up the year on a positive note. 

“Everything has gone well for me, and I’ve won back-to-back gold medals in my division which has given me a lot of motivation and confidence. Winning a gold medal in the NZ Cup was a personal highlight.”

Known for its discipline and focus, karate teaches physical and mental fortitude, integrity and humility. The chance to develop these attributes is one of the many reasons Savera keeps returning to the mat.

“I love that the sport teaches important values such as self-discipline and respect. And I love socialising with my friends at karate as everyone is very supportive. I have learned healthy competition and resilience. Physical strength is, of course, a bonus.”

But it certainly doesn’t come without its challenges. Savera trains three times a week and significantly more in the lead-up to tournaments.

“Preparing for tournaments takes a lot of hard work and extra training, but the result is always worth it. I used to worry about getting hurt and bruised, but I am used to it now! I think the most challenging aspect of karate is being able to make time to train during the week, especially because I do many other extracurricular activities such as school band, piano and drum lessons.”

A drummer in the band ‘Split-level’, Savera and her crew have performed at Battle of the Bands. In addition to practising the piano and drums, she is working towards her Duke of Edinburgh bronze award. And during the school holidays, she is involved in volunteer projects within the community. Then, of course, there are the academics.

Top of her class in Years 7 and 8, academic achievement remains a top priority, no matter how busy she is.

“At times, it’s hard to balance everything. However, I’ve learnt that it can be done through good time management and goal setting. I avoid distractions as much as I can. For example, I don’t have a phone because I don’t think I need it. That way, during school time, I can completely focus on schoolwork.

“I manage my deadlines carefully and avoid leaving things until the last minute. I never use karate as an excuse to miss my academic deadlines and vice versa. During the end-of-year exams, I normally have karate tournaments, karate grading and piano exams, so I start the preparation for all of these well in advance.”

The skills Savera has developed through karate and at ACG Sunderland are standing her in great stead as she navigates the busy life of a hard-working teen – and with all that motivation, dedication and tenacity, the future is definitely looking bright.