• 27 Oct - 02 Nov, 2018
  • Zainab Naseem
  • Interview

She is just a 19-year-old girl from Hazara, Quetta, with passions that can move the mountains. The girl who had once emerged empty handed from the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games held in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2016 has now returned with a Bronze Medal for Pakistan in the 18th Asian games held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Tag along as MAG connects with Nargis Hameed Ullah.

Please tell us how it all started. How did you get into such a tough sport at a young age?

I began martial arts when I was only five, and I was the first to begin with this game in my town. My father was a very good karateka and I only followed his footsteps and joined Mixed Martial Arts. It has taekwondo, karate and Wushu all together so I needed to pick one out of these three. I still remember how greatly inspired I was by Ghulam Ali Hazara when he returned from Bangladesh after becoming a Karate Champion in South Asian Games and was also a three-time Karate champion. He is exceptionally respected in Hazara town. That was the moment when I decided for a particular diversion and began playing and honing for Karate in 2010.

You are the sports sensation these days; how things have changed for you in the last two years?

In the wake of winning the award, I was in an aggregate sentiment of doubt that I have really won a Bronze medal [laughs]. I remember when we were prepared by our coach, he would say, ‘You are not getting prepared for a silver or a bronze, but rather GOLD!’ So being a karateka I accept it as a challenge. When I achieved a Bronze I was a little sad but proud because I won it for Pakistan. And I wanted to break the news to my friends and family that I won a title. But when found myself everywhere on social media, it filled me with renewed energy. My mentors are extremely happy for me and my life has changed.

Previously, being a girl, my opinions were not given a thought, but now it’s very surprising for me when my ideas are taken into significance and I am truly enjoying this change [laughs].

My junior karate trainees are very inspired by me and I am exceptionally regarded at my training centre and everywhere I go. So truly, life has changed in a good way!

You have travelled, played, and won a Bronze for Pakistan. How was the experience throughout in a foreign country with different people and new challenges?

When I was in Indonesia for Asian Games, there were plenty of Asian players. We all exchanged our country’s badges and flags to remember each other. And we blended with love because we were the ambassadors of our countries on a foreign land. So, we always spread the message of peace and love throughout the competition. Furthermore, we learned a lot from each other. When we reached before the competition, the pressure was on the peak and we as a whole were extremely stressed. But, once the championship got over we travelled together and gathered great memories, too. Each nation has their own way of life and I feel exceptionally surprised to blend with every one of them.

Who was/is your karate inspiration and how tough is your training being a Karateka?

My greatest motivation is the South Asian Champion Ghulam Ali Hazara, who is my instructor and also my mentor. There are three main sections of Karate training i.e. Kihon, Kata and Kumite. I had my Kata’s training from Ghulam Ali while Saadi Abbas prepared me for Kumite. He is additionally a major inspiration for me. Before every championship on national or international level I go through aggressive training sessions in Islamabad. Being away from home and constant travelling, rigorous training, gym sessions and injuries all get difficult at times, but having a positive aim in my mind is the sole motivation that keeps me going.

Having a rough and tough professional training schedule, how do you manage your education?

I have been exceptionally honoured. I have finished my FA from Hazara. Being out of the country and long training sessions were the reasons that I couldn't appear in my exams in 2016. However, I finished my FA after I returned and by the grace of Almighty I got A+ and this is such a proud moment for me and my parents.

Living in Hazara District, did you face any kind of hurdles while getting trained?

Due to extreme security hazards in Hazara, we do have problems while getting trained. It has now improved a little bit, but we have to go through a dozen of check posts every day. We had troubles getting our club registered. But now as we are recognised and kind of famous [laughs] we don’t face these problems regularly.

How much support did you get from your family and friends?

My family is my greatest support and they are so glad for me. I travel with my father since he was the person who made me stand firm on the ground. It makes me happy when my father is introduced by my name. He proudly tells everyone how lucky he is to have a daughter like me.

Where do you see women empowerment stand in Pakistan?

Being a girl myself, women empowerment is a great deal to me. We have been seeing girls not getting their way because of the societal pressures and their own fears. Now that I attend events that promote women empowerment on every ground, I feel proud because this is something we should always address. My mother is an example for me and I am so inspired because she is a working woman and a very responsible mother. I believe every woman is amazing in her own way.

What are your future plans?

The South Asian Championship is being held in December, and then there are South Asian Games in March 2019, so our training has already started. Olympics 2020 is my target. I want to represent Pakistan there and win a Gold! There is a long way to go and the picture is very big!

Any message for the young girls, who are inspired by your efforts?

Never ever feel subservient because of your gender, you have the potential no one can match and you can be the pride of the nation! Just stay confident and keep moving ahead! There is nothing that can stop you to achieve, whether you are studying or playing, you are great in your own way. Just believe in yourself and work hard.