Pakistan’s squash player Maria Toorpakai Wazir put her name in the history books by winning the first ever women’s event in the Nash Cup in Canada by beating Milou van der Heijden of the Netherlands 13-11, 11-3, 11-9.

The victory gave Maria, who hails from South Waziristan, the third title of her WSA career after she won the Southwest Squash Open and the Liberty Bell Open last year in the US and was another milestone in her journey of immense courage and perseverance.

“When I win a tournament, I feel that I am moving towards my goals. So winning today means a lot to me,” Maria said after winning the Nash Cup.

Maria who had faced stiff opposition in her native Bannu for playing sport, often posed as a boy to compete in matches in her conservative hometown. She moved to Peshawar in 1999 to pursue her love for squash.

Upon her move, Maria was immediately inducted into the Hashim Khan Complex, named after the first great player to emerge from a Pakistani dynasty of squash players which dominated the international game for decades.

It was in Peshawar where Maria’s father really began to realise the true potential his daughter had. Representing Warsak High School in Peshawar, Maria became the youngest ever winner of the National Women’s Squash Championship toppling top seed Muqaddas Ashraf of Punjab in straight sets in the final at Karachi Club squash court in 2004. She was 13 at the time and while the cash prize of Rs. 8,500 and a crystal trophy felt good, it was really the satisfaction of being better than everyone that was to accelerate Maria’s drive. She quickly swatted away her competition, winning an Under-15 tournament and then at 15 winning the Under-19 Hashim Khan National junior championship in 2005.

She scaled up the national rankings, Dunlop racquet in hand and Mohammad Ali-like confidence, often calling her self the world’s best squash player in some of her post-match press conferences. It was this self belief and great form that finally brought her to the world stage, joining the WISPA in 2006. She was immediately at ease on the international circuit as well, reaching the semi-final stage of the 2nd WISPA International Women’s Squash Championship at the POF Jahangir Khan Complex in Islamabad.

In early August 2007 she was given the Salaam Pakistan Award by the President of Pakistan, alongside tennis player Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and footballer Muhammad Essa.

The year 2009 saw her win her first international tournament when she beat the same opponent she had defeated as a 13-year-old. Muqaddas Ashraf once again succumbed to Maria’s power and agility losing the Chief of Army Staff International squash tournament.

But it was in 2011 that her fortunes really changed.

After learning of a job opening at Canadian squash legend Jonathan Power's National Squash Academy in Toronto, Maria wrote an emotional letter to Power about the difficulty of training freely in Peshawar and about her aspirations of following in the footsteps of Pakistani greats. Moved by the plea, Power immediately took the young talent under his wings and vowed to make her a world champion.

The academy in Toronto gave Maria “10 out of 10” as far as talent was concerned but a lack of proper training meant she had a long way to go before she could compete with the top stars in the world. Her grit and determination, however, meant that it wasn’t going to be long until that happened.

Two titles in 2012, qualification in the British Open main draw (a first for Pakistani female players) and now the Nash Cup. For Power, who was in attendance at the London Squash & Fitness Club in Ontario, Maria seems to be headed in the right direction.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (57)

Mohammad Hassan
September 21, 2013 3:56 pm

Its great to know Maria's progress on the international stage. I have been following this girl for the past 5 years and she makes us proud.

A. Hafeez
September 21, 2013 4:45 pm

Well done.

A. Hafeez
September 21, 2013 4:50 pm

Well Done.

anwar khushab
September 21, 2013 5:03 pm

Wonderful spirit! Keep it up, Maria. We are proud of your determination.

SportsFan
September 21, 2013 5:11 pm

Well done, girl!!

Babar
September 21, 2013 5:19 pm

Good job, Toorpakai :) We are proud of you!

fiaz
September 21, 2013 5:40 pm

Well done, we don't deserve but you have made us proud!!!

BNS
September 21, 2013 5:43 pm

Great job! Everyone is proud of you. Keep going, sky is your limit.

S. A. M.
September 21, 2013 5:54 pm

Wonderful!

A big thanks to Power for giving shape to this uncarved diamond i.e. Maria Toor.

Keep it up litttle girl, as the sky is the limit!

Aj
September 21, 2013 6:02 pm

Great news. She is our pride and I congratulate her, the parents and whole the nation for this achievement. This win will have a promotional boost for pakistan too as we are mostly regarded as a nation of fundamentalists where female are not allowed to participate.

Syed Hamza Rasool
September 21, 2013 6:09 pm

Great news ... Good Job

Jawwad
September 21, 2013 6:52 pm

Well done Maria. Your story is very inspirational and hoping more people pick up sports which helps strengthen your mind and spirit. We needed it at this time. Also Thank you to her Canadian trainer for having a belief in her and giving her the opportunity.

mba
September 21, 2013 8:15 pm

Such a determination and such a courage: not many men and women can compete her. My heartly congratulation for winning the championship; my utmost respect for pushing your goal in a very conservative province of a very conservative country.

Aurang Zeb
September 21, 2013 8:31 pm

Great story! I wish you best of luck for your future, which is no doubt bright and sparkling. You are brave person. Your story will let people of this nation think, using energy in positive direction, puts you out of cage. Brave people follow paths of their choice and succeed in life.

Iqbal
September 21, 2013 8:53 pm

Great job. We are proud of you.

shuaib malik
September 21, 2013 9:16 pm

I'm touched, you made us proud Maira. Wish you all the very best and hope you grow and prosper in the years to come, ameen.

Ali
September 21, 2013 9:31 pm

This kind of news do not promote in TV channels. But now good to hear positive and exceptional achievement.

M. Omar
September 21, 2013 9:38 pm

You go girl....

vigilant
September 21, 2013 9:47 pm

Congrats & keep it up

Imtiaz Hydari
September 21, 2013 10:22 pm

Pakistan is proud of you Maris. May you scale greater heights!

Hassan s
September 21, 2013 10:29 pm

Well done Maria. U have made Pakistan proud

Aamer Intsar
September 21, 2013 10:48 pm

Bravo.... You have made us proud. May Allah grant you success in future as well. Amen.

Iftikhar Shah Gilani
September 21, 2013 11:00 pm

Congratulations for the Nash cup win and wish all the best to our player for her future endeavors.

M F Azam
September 21, 2013 11:22 pm

CONGRATULATs, Maria, on your phenomenal achievements.Your game is much tougher than land hockey, where 11 persons could not achieve goal for Pakistan whereas.being alone,you gave them lesson to wake-up men ( I am damn sure) Pakistani male are more lazy than our wonderful ladies bcz of money greed. May ALLAH(swt) Bless His Roohani Khayr-o-Barkat in life.Keep praying 5 times which is the ultimate psychological strength and coolness in yr head while playing. Keep raizing higher national Green Flag in interntional sport competition.(ameen), Wising you Good Luck & Good Health.

Omer
September 22, 2013 1:02 am

Good Job Maria! We love you and are proud of you. Keep it up! Stay blessed!

Naveed Khan
September 22, 2013 1:30 am

Congratulations! Maria, I hope you win more laurels in squash. You bring good news to Pakistan and readers!. My prayers are with you.

Zeeshan
September 22, 2013 3:16 am

Good job Maria!

sqamar
September 22, 2013 4:21 am

Maria, you have kindled a lantern of hope for a desperate and disappointed nation marred by the racism, terrorism and religious intolerance. A few girls like yourself and Mallala coming from the very conservative society and primitive surrounding have really made the difference at the world stage with your marvellous achievements and getting Pakistanis acknowledged in the world arena as moderate and civilized people.

Well done and many thanks for what you have done!!

Samar_Yz
September 22, 2013 4:33 am

Maria Toor, Pakistan's pride!

Fara
September 22, 2013 5:10 am

You go girl

Adil Jadoon
September 22, 2013 6:39 am

Well done. Truly an inspiration for all Pakistanis.

Adil Jadoon
September 22, 2013 6:36 am

Well Done. You are a true inspiration for all Pakistanis.

Sarah
September 22, 2013 7:20 am

@M F Azam: Will you please keep religion out of sports? If I am not wrong this girl was threatened in Pakistan for playing Squash.So she went to train in Internationally in Toronto,Canada and currently resides there.Please keep religion out of sports,its excellence in skills which translates into success.Otherwise God has created everybody with same hands and legs.Already have seen some of cricketers and hockey players destroyed their career after preaching Islam and religion.

Sheraz Masood
September 22, 2013 11:44 am

Well done Maria. You made all Pakistania proud!

hussein_jamal
September 22, 2013 1:27 pm

congrats.....but stay safe from those blood-sucking, women hating taliban

Omar
September 22, 2013 2:54 pm

Congrats Maria. Do us proud!!!

Akram
September 22, 2013 2:57 pm

Mubarak ho, it is women like yourself that drive Pakistan forward. Please don't forget those left behind and do your bit to help other women progress in the same manner.

Amjad Wyne
September 22, 2013 6:30 pm

@Akram: Very good advice - women like her and I must say a number of others in Pakistan - from Everest climber, Oscar winner, Paratroopers to entrepreneurs - should lead the way - and not just for the Pakistani women but for the entire Pakistan.

Irfan Mirza
September 22, 2013 8:09 pm

Keep winning Maria!!! We are proud of you.

Aamir
September 22, 2013 10:12 pm

Are you guys kidding. She is only able to win a squash tournament because she lives in Canada and for this reason only she was able to play. She was a living like a boy in South Waziristan because Taliban and her extended family opposed her playing any kind of sport. Read the following article: http://www.thestar.com/sports/2011/08/13/squashprodigyfleestalibanto_toronto.html Stop saying that Pakistan is proud of you. If she would have been in Pakistan she would had been killed by now.

MAH
September 22, 2013 10:34 pm

You make us proud Maria! Keep doing your stuff.

Tahir Chaudhry
September 22, 2013 11:08 pm

We are all very proud of you; Congratulations.

imran
September 23, 2013 1:15 am

she is a canadian now (most likely) so please thank canada not pakistan for her achievements. had she been in pakistan she would be making rotis for her husband somewhere, so please thank the yahud and nassarah for her acheivements

Syed Ali
September 23, 2013 3:10 am

Heartiest greetings, Maria. I'd sincerely like to give you one advice! Please, like many other Pakistani talents, who achieve fame and fortune, do not get swollen headed (which unfortunately has happened with a number of Pakistanis). Please be sincere, work hard, have faith, and you'll Insha-Allah earn many more feathers in your hat. May Allah keep you safe from all evils, specially of likes of Talibans and our so called "Mullahs". I hope you'd be a role model for other young girls, as a good Muslima, and an outstanding athlete.

Syed Ali
September 23, 2013 3:23 am

@Sarah: I am sorry Sarah, but you are so far away from the truth! There is not a SINGLE example that any cricketers "destroyed their career after preaching Islam and religion"! Unfortunately, among Muslims of your type, Islam bashing has become rather common. In your enthusiasm to berate Muslims and Islam, please do not misstate the facts. All the cricketers who have been involved in illegal and criminal behavior have always been absolutely non-practicing Muslims. So, please do not try to bring bad name to Islam, in this way. Every Muslim, man or woman, should be proud of his/her religion, as long as one is a "true" Muslim, caring, loving, and seeking peace for all humanity.

yasmeen
September 23, 2013 4:31 am

Assalam u Alaikum ,

Maria Alhamdulillah you are a muslim women. I dont understand why everyone congratulate you. Look at you look at your clothes, you can be anyone ,cristian, jewish, hindu even athiest but a Muslim. I am not ashamed of you, Allah gives you a hidayat.

Monis
September 23, 2013 8:12 am

well done Maria... you make us proud !!! =)

sana
September 23, 2013 10:06 am

Only indians are disliking the good comments.. they can stop their jealousy.

hamayoon khan
September 23, 2013 10:32 am

Congratulations! Maria, I hope you win more laurels in squash. You bring good news to Pakistan and readers!. My prayers are with you.

specially Congratulations for shams sab.

Asra Tufail
September 23, 2013 10:36 am

Keep it up Maria! You made Pakistan Proud!

Asra Tufail
September 23, 2013 10:32 am

Keep it up Maria! You made Pakistan Proud!

hussein_jamal
September 23, 2013 10:37 am

what an irony? takes a pakistani woman to an international honour while the ever-free men enjoy losing streak. bravo maria

Amber
September 23, 2013 10:48 am

Congratulations! to al nations. It is pride for all of us and we should be thankful to Power for carving our gem and equipping Maria. Well done young lady instead of having trouble and hurdles you stand for your ambition and passion. We are proudof you. May Allah bless you more fame and glory. God bless you.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad
September 23, 2013 11:44 am

Well done Maria. Keep it up and hang on tough.

AH
September 23, 2013 12:46 pm

Great going.. Congrats.. Keep it on

Akhter Husain
September 23, 2013 1:19 pm

The Wazir tribe may learn from this young girl the art to excel.Pakistan is with you in your en devour to be best in the world.Let the misguided people know that there are so many ways,other than guns which can make one prominent and attract admiration from the world..Well done Maria ,we wish you good luck through-out you career.

Janikhel
September 23, 2013 11:47 pm

@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad: I sincerely hope, that our thankless establishment is going treat her like we have sunk many many other heroes.

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