Now a star squash player with a promising international career, Maria Toorpakai Wazir was born in Waziristan, a highly conservative region of Pakistan. In the early days she would come home bruised and bleeding from fights. Supported by her father, she focused that battling spirit on squash. From the tender age of twelve years, she needed to disguise herself as a boy and use a false name because, in her region, girls must follow strict guidelines and many are denied an education. Maria later received ominous threats for playing in shorts.
In her area, girls wear veils, are not even allowed to leave their family homes, and are always accompanied by male family members. When local villagers realized what Maria was doing, they were shocked at the way she brought dishonor to their tribe.
She didn't give up. She locked herself in the squash court and played for hours, from morning to evening. With swollen, bruised and bleeding hands, she kept playing alone, trying to create her own shots and drills. The hard work paid off. She won several national junior championships and turned professional in 2006. The following year she received an award from the Pakistani president.
Every day, for three and a half years, she sent emails to clubs, academies, schools, colleges and universities in the West—wherever she could find squash courts. By the time she was 18, she had sent thousands. Although the Pakistani squash federation provided her with security on an open court, people still attacked her. Eventually, she played squash in her room for three years and sustained many injuries.
One of her emails reached Canadian squash legend Jonathon Power. He took her under his wing. With her talent and determination, he believes she has the drive to become the best player in the world.
See full inspirational article here. I can see this story being turned into a movie which would raise everyone's spirits.
If you like this story, you might also like my novel Still Rock Water, displayed at the bottom of the page.