Pakistan No 1 female squash player Maria Toor Pakai started training here at the Mushaf Ali Mir Squash Complex along with other male and female players on Wednesday. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Maria told this scribe that she was a completely different player after joining Jonathon Powel in Canada two years back. “I was latterly playing with one leg only previously, as I had an injury prone carrier. As I faced one injury after another, but after joining National Squash Academy in Canada, now I am transformed into a complete player, getting rid of all injuries and more focused and balanced moving freely.”

Talking about the chances of female players in the upcoming FMC 17th Asian Individual Championship, Maria replied: “We have bright chances in the championship as Sammar Anjum, Roshna Mahboob and Riffat Khan are very good players. They read the situation very well and head coach Jamshed Gul is working very hard with them.”

she said in her opinion upcoming Sadia Gul should have also be given chance in the event, as she was the future of the country. “Athletic and agile and above all she is a very composed player. She should have made a big impact if given a chance to represent the country in the championship. Other players like Saima Shaukat and Zoya Khalid can also make good impression if they work hard on their fitness and focus on their game,” she added. To a query, Maria replied: “By the next year, I will qualify to represent Canada but I will not play for them as I will continue to represent my beloved country Pakistan in the future events.”

She completely rubbished the reports appeared in a section of press regarding she was seeking asylum along with her family. “Neither I have applied for asylum not I need it. These stories are completely baseless as I love my country a lot and feel really proud to represent it in all the international events. That is the main reason I came back to Pakistan to play in the prestigious event.”

Maria, 22, said she would remain in Pakistan till May 10, then she would depart for Canada. “There is no dearth of talent in Pakistan and the PSF is also providing benefits to female players. PSF secretary Abdul Wahab Marwat is very instrumental and always ready to listen to genuine demands of the players, but I will recommend the PSF that it should provide the girls players much-needed international exposure as it is completely out of question to achieve desired results without investing in players. All the opponents have vast international exposure which will surely provide them a chance to excel while it will also be very beneficial for our female players to showcase their skills in front of some quality players and will certainly boost their morale helping them in overcoming their shortcomings.”

She said Pakistan girls were blessed ones as they had a world class coach in the shape of Jamshed Gul who is providing them proper training, mental and physical fitness. The participation in the WSA events will ensure these girls will certainly end up much higher in the WSA rankings sooner rather than later, Maria concluded.