Two players returned to the PSA World Tour this week at the Nash Cup in Canada. Even if they are both based in Toronto – and training with Jonathon Power – the reason behind their time off court is very different. Here are their stories.
“I WAS BORN A WARRIOR”
Maria Toorpakai’s last appearance on the tour was in February. Since then, the Pakistan’s greatest ever female squash player devoted most of her time to preparing and promoting a documentary about her life: Girl Unbound: The War to Be Her. Directed by Canadian filmmaker Erin Heidenreich, the movie was unveiled last week at the Toronto International Film Festival. It tells the incredible history of Toorpakai: born in the region of Waziristan, – where women are forbidden by the Taliban from playing sports – she had to disguise herself as a boy until the age of 16 to be able to play squash. “It is at this time that my family and myself started to receive death threats,” she tells.
Photo credit: Facebook Maria Toorpakai Wazir
The War to be Her takes audiences from Toronto, Canada, where Toorpakai trains with former World Champion Jonathon Power, to Pakistan, where she defies the threats to take a road trip with sister and local politician, Ayesha Gulalai. “Seeing so many people moved by the movie was amazing,” said Toorpakai following the premier. “I come from an area that is lawless, where the Taliban have control. My family was very supportive and my father, unlike most men in the area, educated my sisters and I. But I have seen so many girls who are scared of becoming teenagers because that means they will be married off. They have no voice, and I think it is important to let the world know that women deserve to be heard.”
(Source : PSA World Tour)
Photo credit: NASH CUP
Maria Toorpakai (world number 62) was beaten in the Nash Cup quarter finals by Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi.
CORNETT SEES THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Photo credit: www.thestar.com
She played some wonderful matches at home in 2014, but Canada’s Samantha Cornett surely wondered whether she was going to be able to feature in the 2016 Women’s World Team Championships later on this year in Paris. But after fourteen months out due to multiples injuries (foot and knee), the former world #28 (who dropped to #225) made her return this week on the courts of the London Squash & Fitness Club. It’s been a successful comeback, and she will face her teammate Danielle Letourneau tonight for a spot in the finals.
Photo credit: Squashmad
In a fascinating article, she tells us how she went through this difficult time and learned to set new goals. She took advantage of this time off the tour to do things she usually didn’t have time to do: learning Spanish, getting another level of coaching certification and even interviewing her friends in Team Canada! “I can see now how injured athletes, or athletes who retire, can reach some dark places. When you take away a goal you are throwing everything at, things look bleak. I realize goals aren’t the answer to everything; sometimes you have to be okay with just being.”
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