Sunday, July 26, 2009

Zoya has pleasant memories of India

Hindu Sports Reporter

CHENNAI: Seventeen-year-old Zoya Khalid from Lahore likes watching re-runs of Bollywood movies and says she did not face any problems at home or school in taking up squash.

“I was always encouraged to play by my parents and the federation.

“We were taken to Malaysia for a tournament recently. I’ve played in Delhi and have taken back pleasant memories of this country,” she says after practice at the Indian Squash Academy here on Sunday morning.

A fan of Amr Shabana and Cristiano Ronaldo, Zoya reveals she is friends with Indian players Surbhi Mishra and Dipika Pallikal. “I have also taken tips from Joshna Chinappa.”

Zoya, along with Pakistan’s left-handed No. 1 Maria Toor Pakay, is here with the Pakistani squash team to participate in the World junior championships later this month.

The team’s manager-cum-coach, former British Open champion (1975) Qamar Zaman, admits not many girls play squash in Pakistan, but that “the federation is doing its best to encourage participation”.

“Our team has been selected on an open trial basis. Peshawar is an active squash centre in Pakistan. We don’t have many girls, but we are trying.”

“We had absolutely no problem in getting a visa. At every stage we had the complete support of both the Federations. We feel very welcome here,” says the man from Peshawar.

Pakistan will compete in two individual events at this event, with four boys and two girls. Zaman admits that the girls may find the competition at this stage a little overawing.

“The girls are a little inexperienced, but we will give our best. We have worked very hard and that always pays off.”

On the popularity of the sport in Pakistan, Zaman says having a player in the family goes a long way in a youngster taking up squash.

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