By Syed Ali Shah
QUETTA: In a strictly guarded and confined area on the outskirts of Quetta, a group of teenage Hazara girls are making all-out efforts to hone their Wushu martial arts skills.
The Lion Hearts Academy, located in Hazara Town, is one-of-a-kind in its offering to the youth of the small town.
Dressed in black and green shirts, around 20 Hazara girls excitedly imitate their teacher as walls of their compound reverberate with karate grunts.
Wushu martial arts, which originated in ancient China, are about self-defence, hunting and military training. Though outwardly aggressive, the exercise signifies joy for the Hazara girls, who belong to a city that has been plagued with violence in recent years.
“I love Karate and want to put my country on the map through sports,” said Jamila Mirza, a 22-year-old student at the academy.
Earlier this year, Jamila was in Iran, where she won a Peace and Friendship Karate Championship after defeating players from India, Iran, Afghanistan and an Arab country.
“It was my dream to fight for the country in a foreign land,” she said, panting after an hour-long session at the club. Jamila is deeply motivated to pursue martial arts and improve the skills at a sport she has managed to achieve at a fairly young age.
“I have been unbeatable in Balochistan. Nobody can fight me,” said Parisa Sultan, another Karate champion at the academy. She has been practising the sport for the past three years and is 15 years old now with a number of championship titles to her name already.
“I learnt martial arts for self-defence,” she said.
Parisa is one of the 20 girls at the martial arts school that trains boys as well.
The academy has been imparting Karate skills to students for the past ten years, but the participation ratio of girls has increased in the last five years only, said Master Najeeb.
“We charge a monthly fee of Rs300 from our students,” he said.
Master Najeeb is hopeful of a promising future for the talented students in the form of martial arts.