Maria Toorpakai Wazir, 25, belongs to Waziristan, an ultra-conservative tribe in Pakistan, where girls are always expected to stay indoors.
Currently at the 49th position in the World Squash Championship, she aspires to break into the top ten sometime in this year.
Her innate resolute countenance can be seen by that fact that when she was only 4 and a half years old, she rebelled by not wearing the all-covering girl’s clothes and used to fight with the boys who dare to bully her little brother and achieving in the process lots of black eyes and stitches. Her father, soon realized her combative nature and decided to advocate for Women’s rights and encouraged her to join sports. He even went as far as to tell the society that she was actually a boy and called her Chengiz Khan.
But this façade soon was revealed when she joined a sports academy in Peshawar. Not surprisingly just in 3 years she became Pakistan’s top female Squash champion and the 3rd ranked Junior in the world.
Though, she had to face uncertainties regarding her career when she started receiving death threats from the Taliban militants who propagated that it is unIslamic for girls to play sports.
Maria says that since it was becoming more difficult for her to stay in Pakistan, she had to email various Squash clubs around the world seeking asylum.
Miraculously, it was Jonathan Power, a Squash legend who first replied to her mail and invited her to come and resettle in Canada and also offered to become her coach.
She now lives and train in Toronto but has refused the offers from both Canada and Kuwait to play for their national Squash teams. Maria cites that she wants to play for her native country and inspire other women to come forward and contribute more to Pakistan’s development.
With the fiery confidence, Maria told that she and all other women has enough determination and strength to achieve their goals. She hopes to become the World Squash champion in the next two years.