Barbados Motoring Federation appoints Natya Soodeen to Women in Motorsport post

The Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) just revealed the appointment of Natya Soodeen as Chairperson of Women in Motorsport Barbados. A former show-jumper, who has represented Barbados in regional and international events, Natya has turned her passion for competition from one horsepower to another and is now an active member of the island’s motor sport scene.

Natya says: “I am very excited about this new position and keen to get started. Even before speaking to Andrew Mallalieu, I had begun to organise an event at Worthing Square Food Court, to promote the sport to females, especially the youngsters and those with less resources and those with disabilities. This is a perfect fit with the FIA’s Purpose Driven Diversity & Inclusion programme, so I hope we can make our mark.”

BMF President Andrew Mallalieu said: “I am delighted to welcome Natya on board, as we work to encourage even greater diversity in our sport. As a competitor in her BimmaCup car, also someone who has represented Barbados overseas at the highest level in show jumping, I believe she will bring some real energy to the post. For many years, island events have had regular support from a body of female marshals and a fair sprinkling of successful co-drivers, too, but the number of drivers on race track or rally stage has remained limited. Let’s see if we can change that!

Natya is a former world class equestrian, with many years’ experience in the saddle at the top levels of the sport. She spent a decade living and training in Europe, becoming successful as one of the few top-flight females on the largely male-dominated show jumping circuit. She has represented Barbados at the Pan American Games, and the Central American Games and also had the opportunity to compete at the World Championships for Young Horses in Belgium. But she has now not only switched horsepower, but also moved from one male-dominated sport to another.

She made her motor sport debut at the Vaucluse Raceway in the second half of the 2019 BimmaCup, in which her brother Sacha had already been competing successfully. Although the coronavirus pandemic shortened last year’s motor sport season, Natya nevertheless threw herself into her new sporting career with energy and commitment. While continuing in the BimmaCup, she expanded her programme to include Barbados Rally Club (BRC) events, including Sol Rally Barbados 2020 and the Winter Rally. This year, she has already competed in the BRC Bushy Park Double-Header Sprint, the BimmaCup and is leading the Ladies Class of the grass roots BRC Autocross Championship after two rounds. With a prolific presence on a number of social media platforms, Natya also plans to be involved in more charity work with her race car to support her commitment as a fundraiser with the Barbados RSPCA.

Since its creation in 2009, the FIA Women In Motorsport Commission has helped change the sport’s culture to facilitate and value the participation of women in all areas of motor sport activity, on and off the track, and raised awareness of the huge range of industry roles available to women.

Throughout its existence, the Commission President has been Michèle Mouton, the first woman to win a round of the FIA World Rally Championship and runner-up to Walter Rorhl in the 1982 WRC; she was also co-founder of the Race Of Champions, which was hosted at Bushy Park Barbados in 2014. Of the Commission’s work, Mouton says: “There are already a number of highly successful women working in our sport, but we also need to invest in the future and encourage the younger generation to view it as a world of equal opportunities.”

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