Maria Toorpakai Wazir, a rising star in the sport of squash, grew up in rural Pakistan where her father, fearing retaliation for violating strict Pakistani tradition, “encouraged everyone to think she was his son,” reports the Toronto Star. After Toorpakai became more well-known, the Taliban reportedly threatened her if she’d continue playing because it considers women wearing shorts to be obscene.

Toorpakai, 21, decided it was time to leave Pakistan to continue pursuing her dreams, and she landed in Toronto in the spring to study and train with Canadian squash legend Jonathon Power. Power believes that Toorpakai has what it takes to be the best in the sport.

How good is she? During her adolescent and teenage years, she won every national junior championship, going pro in 2006. At her peak, at the age of 18, she was ranked number 66 in the world.

But after seeing some of her friends killed and others kidnapped by militants in Pakistan, Toorpakai knew it was time to leave. Fearing for their safety, her family has told others that she’s also left squash behind. If Toorpakai does achieve her dream of becoming the best in the world, she doesn’t know what that might mean for her family in Pakistan.

[The Toronto Star]