Maria Toorpakay Wazir

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Maria Toorpakay Wazir
Country  Pakistan
Born (1990-11-22) November 22, 1990 (age 23)
South Waziristan
Turned Pro 2006
Coached by Jonathan Power
Racquet used Dunlop
Women's singles
Highest ranking No. 41 (December 2012)
Current ranking No. 53 (May 2013)
Title(s) 2
Tour final(s) 4
Last updated on: November, 2012.

Maria Toorpakay Wazir (Pashto: ماريه تورپيکۍ وزير; Urdu: ماریه تورپیکئ وزیر‎; b. November 22, 1990 in South Waziristan) is a professional Pakistani squash player from South Waziristan.

She is currently ranked 54th in the world,[1] and is Pakistan No. 1.[2] She is one of three Pakistani women in the top 200.[3] Maria turned pro in 2006.

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.[2]

In late August 2007, aged just 16, she missed out on making her maiden appearance in a WISPA World Tour final after losing a five-game semi-final thriller in the POF WISPA Wah Cantt Open at the Jahangir Khan Squash Complex in the Punjab city of Wah Cantt in Pakistan. She was nominated as WISPA Young Player of the Year 2007.

Background[edit]

Maria Toorpakay is a professional squash player, born in a Pashtun family on November 22, 1990 in South Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan in Pakistan's northwest. She is currently ranked as Pakistan's top female player, and 49th in the world. Toorpakay turned professional in 2006, and in 2009 came third in the World Junior Women's Championship.[4][5]

As a child in a highly conservative tribal area of Pakistan, Toorpakay trained and competed as a boy in Peshawar, as suggested by her father Shamsul Qayum, as girls' involvement in sport was forbidden by the local Islamic culture. At the age of 12, she competed in a junior weightlifting tournament under the male moniker 'Chingaiz Khan' and was crowned the champion.

After being required to produce a birth certificate to play squash at age 16, the truth about Toorpakay's gender came out and she was subject to harassment and bullying from other players. Additionally, as a professional female sportsperson who played without a veil and in shorts, Toorpakay and her family were threatened as her actions were perceived as "un-Islamic." The Pakistani national squash federation provided security for her home and training venue, however Toorpakay decided it was a safer option to seek an opportunity to train internationally.[4][5][6] For three years she wrote to clubs, players, and schools and received no response, until Jonathon Power replied.[7]

Toorpakay currently resides and trains in Toronto, Canada, under former professional squash player Jonathon Power.[6] Toorpakay is the sister of Ayesha Gulalai who is Member of National Assembly representing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on a reserved seat for women.

In 2013 she made a speech for Tedxteen called 'Squashing Extremism'.

References[edit]

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