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Lavanya Bahuguna


Read The Brave Story Of Maria Toorpakai, Pakistan’s No. 1 Female Squash Player

  • JWB Post
  •  April 12, 2016


To overcome the Taliban threats, Maria Toorpakai Wazir disguised herself as a boy to play the sport she loved in her childhood. Today, she is Pakistan’s number one female squash player.

During the Women in the World Summit, she remembered participating in athletics all dressed up like a boy.

The 25-year-old said, “The girls in Afghanistan are living a very different life. People don’t allow their girls education, they get shot if they try. I was the first person playing sports in skirts. I was strong. I wanted to hang out just like my brothers. They were running around, and wrestling, and I thought I would just be like them. So I tossed all my girly clothes in a fire and cut my hair.”

She was lucky that her family supported her.

When she was small, she won the boys’ national championship as Genghis Khan. But she had to reveal her gender when the director of the squash academy asked to see her birth certificate. What happened next was something she knew of. She said, “I was bullied, I was harassed, anything you can count. It was unbelievable.”

Later, her family received death threats from the Taliban. She remembered, “I wasn’t scared for myself. I was scared for everyone out there. Because if I went to a squash court, it was going to get blown up.”

Maria didn’t give up. Instead, she started writing emails to squash players in the West in order to receive some assistance. Among the recipients of her messages was Jonathan Power, a now-retired squash champion from Canada, who offered to be her trainer.

She stated, “Through sports, that gave me a chance, I got better as a squash player and I got better as a human being.”

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