A young woman from south Waziristan, in Pakistan, developed a passion and skill for squash — but living in a highly conservative culture that forbade women from sports ultimately forced her to leave the country, reported Al Jazeera English.
Maria Toorpakai Wazir played against the boys growing up and even dressed like a boy to evade the gender discrimination that attempted to prevent her from playing squash. But eventually, her success led to military threats against her family.
She had a stark choice presented to her by her father, who supported her passion.
“I didn’t know what to do, but my dad, one day he saw me hitting for hours and hours and he said, ‘If you want to play squash, just go out from this country and never come back,'” she said.
She sent thousands of emails to universities, clubs, academies and teams in the U.S., Canada, and Europe desperately searching for a way to do just that.
She managed to reach Jonathan Power, a former squash champion looking for an instructor at his academy in Canada.
She’s now ranked 41st in the world and trains constantly for major tournaments.
She wants to show “that girls can be world champions. Girls can be anything if you give them a chance.”
Watch the video, via Al Jazeera English, below.