Azra Bibi, who was born with hearing and speech impairments to a poor family, is now one of the most promising talents at the Malam Jabba ski training school.
Azra used to sell boiled eggs to tourists along with her brother Hamza, at a ski resort in Malam Jabba, to contribute to the family’s livelihood. At the age of just 9, she pursued her passion for skiing with determination to become one of the best minor skiers in the region.
Due to financial constraints, Azra’s family could not afford to buy her proper skiing equipment so her brother Hamza carved wooden ski pedals and boards to enable his sister to practice her favorite sport.
Now, 12-year-old Azra, who is hearing and speech-impaired, has become one of the excellent students at her ski training school as she continues to pursue her passion for skiing despite financial and physical restraints.
Her brother, Hamza Khan, who is also a skier, said even though Azra is disabled and communicates with us using sign language, she was quick to learn, especially how to ski and quickly outdid other skiers of her age within two years of admission.
“She began skiing with wooden planks as a little child as she didn’t have ski equipment. Later on, she got herself enrolled in the Malam Jabba Ski School to polish her skiing skills as a professional,” said her brother.
“She is a quick learner.” said her coach Sharif Khan, who is confident that she will not only participate in the upcoming ski tournament but also win. “She participated in many competitions and won several of them. She can compete with senior professional skiers on the main slope in Malam Jabba,” he furhter added.
“If she continues learning in the school, I am sure she will be better skier than normal people here. In the coming two to three years, she will be a professional skier and will be able to play at international level,” he said.
The ski training school at Malam Jabba has been established recently; as the scenic valley recovers from the destruction caused by militants in the past years. The ski resort has been rebuilt along with a chairlift to shift people at the top of the skiing spot where ski tournaments are being held.
Malam Jabba is famous for alpine skiing and is considered the only ski resort in the country where private skiers can play ski. Skiing is properly taught in Malam Jabba where presently more than 90 children receive grass skiing training.
Like previous years, the local administration has announced that it will be organizing skiing tournaments this year as well. Azra is excited at the prospects of participating in the tournament and hopes she can make her country proud.
Azra’s brother Hamza said she wanted to come upfront and participate in national and international skiing championship to do her country proud ata bigger level.
Mr Hamza further said that the government should support her sister by providing her with necessary equipment.