"Armed with a squash racket and enormous will, Maria Toorpakai has risen from the turmoil of tribal life in Pakistan to become not only a world-class athlete, but a true inspiration, a pioneer for millions of other women struggling to pave their own paths to autonomy, fulfillment and genuine personhood"
- Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
Maria Toorpakai Wazir was born in 1990 to a Pashtun family in South Waziristan, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan considered the most dangerous place on earth. In order to pursue her love of sport, Maria had to disguise herself as a boy, defying the Taliban, so she could live the freedoms of a man.
After her gender was eventually revealed in order for her to train professionally in squash, life became more dangerous. Maria and her family received death and kidnap threats, as her actions were perceived as 'un-Islamic'. The Pakistani national squash federation provided security for her home and training venue, but Maria decided it was a safer option to seek an opportunity to train internationally.
Maria is currently ranked fifty-fourth in the world and is Pakistan Number One at squash. She trains full time at the Toronto Athletic Club under former professional squash player Jonathon Power.
Join us for Maria’s Memoir Book Launch, A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid From the Taliban in Plain Sight on Monday June 27th from 5:00pm-7:00pm at Stratus. Hear Maria’s heart-stopping and profoundly moving story of her long road and eventual triumph following her dream and how her passion for the game of squash changed her life.
Space is limited! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autographed books will be available for purchase.
Watch a preview of Maria's story as profiled by CNN: