PESHAWAR: Inside a rented house in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial capital of Peshawar, 10 girls exercise, shadowing their boxing coach.
They are preparing for the Provincial Games, which will begin on March 17.
After a few minutes of warm-up exercise, the coach, Shehnaz Kamal, wearing two punching pads on her hands, calls her students one by one to punch the pads.
Shehnaz said that they normally train once a day, but since the beginning of the training camp for the games they have started training twice a day to build their stamina.
“Three of our boxers, Hadia Kamal, Aqsa Ali and Habiba Fazil Khan, have been selected to compete in the provincial games and we are training them to ensure they win,” Shehnaz said.
Aqsa Ali said that they are training five hours daily. “We train two hours in the morning and three hours in the evening,” she told Arab News.
Habiba Fazil Khan said that she feels excited to have been selected. “I am glad that I have good coaches who are working hard to improve our performance. Hopefully I will win a gold medal.”
Shehnaz said that she developed a liking for the sport from her three brothers who are boxers. She liked it more, and is now married to Kamal Shah, who is a coach and a boxer.
“In 2005 my husband started training me, and after that I did courses in coaching including an international course by a Sri Lankan boxing coach in Karachi in December 2015.”
Now Shehnaz is a three-star boxing coach.
After returning from Karachi, Shehnaz wanted to train girls to box — and for free. “Like boys, girls also need martial arts for their self-defense,” she said. “At the same time, I know that parents in our society prefer their daughters to train with female coaches.”
Then she had the idea of a home-based academy that offered the right environment for girls who want to learn boxing.
The idea was successful, said Shehnaz, and achieved good results, “As a result of our preparation and hard work in training for the
2016 South Asian Games, our students Sofia Javed and Rukhsana Parveen won bronze medals,” she said.
Now Shehnaz and her team want to make a difference again.
Hadia Kamal, another boxer with Shehnaz, said that there was a time at the beginning of her training that she was afraid of boxing fights, but now she laughs it away.
“I will aim for a gold medal in the provincial games this time. Given my preparation and diet, I can’t wait to be in the boxing ring.”