Nazia Parveen does a lot of things besides working for her MPhil degree at the National Defence University in Islamabad. She climbs and paraglides too.
In a few days, the girl from Bajaur Agency will be making history as the first woman to be taking part in the two-day International Rock Climbing Competition in Singapore starting January 10.
To date, Parveen has won 28 consecutive competitions in rock climbing, including two national championships. She has also broken records set by men in four competitions.
According to Nazia, there is a need to promote such sports in Pakistan. “These sports need to be given proper recognition and that is what will make sponsors come forward and show support,” she said. “Rock climbing should be included in the games listed by the Pakistan Sports Board. They should also try and arrange coaching camps, training programmes, etc for those who are interested.”
The first time Parveen went rock climbing was on a university field trip. It was love at first try. A year later, she was the face of the Adventure Club of Pakistan. Although she has only been rock climbing for three years without any formal training, her dedication and determination have taken her to new heights.
“My hostel organised a field trip and I had the opportunity to attempt rock climbing there,” she said. “I liked it instantly and have been a regular climber since.”
This was in March 2010, by October that year she won her first competition. Two months after that she won a wall climbing competition.
Once she realised, rock climbing was more than a hobby, Perveen started to take it seriously and joined the Adventure Club of Pakistan. As a woman from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Parveen felt there were some hurdles she had to overcome. She said she was indebted to her class and hostel mates who occasionally joined her for training sessions and made it relatively easier.
On the financial side, Parveen said she wrote a letter to the governor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa asking for help and he announced that he would take care of all the expenses.
She has also participated in the Chenab Rock Climbing Competition and set a record by beating her competition by a lead that was twelve times greater. In March 2011, she participated in the 5th Pakistan Open Climbing Competition, a national level event. She won the competition and set a record in female categories.
After winning five competitions in a row, she was made junior instructor for the women’s chapter of the club.
“I want to change the image of women in Fata. I took the sport as a challenge to show the world that nothing is impossible for a woman from the tribal areas if she has a goal in mind,” she said. “As well as being an ambassador of sports, I also want to train the girls from Fata to rock climb.” Parveen’s other passion lies in paragliding. She recently completed the first part of the elementary paragliding pilot course. When it comes to the more traditional sports, Perveen likes to play badminton.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2014.
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