After a fun hectic day in school, kids return home, they get fresh, have their meal and likely go for a peaceful and refreshing nap. But, for Huzaifa Ibrahim, returning from school is just the start of his day. The 13-year old completes his homework and heads to Pakistan Navy Squash complex to practice with his father Subhanullah, who is also his coach. He put all his heart and soul in training for three to four hours daily.
The age when kids start to learn poems like ‘twinkle twinkle little star’, he was honing his squash skills in the squash court. He started playing squash at the age of 4.5 years when he did not even know anything about the game. It was his father’s dream, who himself played squash for three years. “He is playing squash since he was only 5 years old, he did not even know about the game at that time, it was my dream that he take squash as his profession, now he has also developed the interest in the sport,” told his father.
The young squash player had his first tour in 2014 to Iran, where he got the second position in the tournament. In the span of around 3 years, Huzaifa is now second ranked U-14 player in Asia and recently won Japan Junior Open International Squash Championship by defeating the local boy Youjin Okaida by 3-1 in the final. The 7th standard student gets a warm welcome when he returns to school after winning a tournament. “My friends and teachers congratulate me, my fellows say ‘we wish we could also play squash like you’,” he shares with a glittering smile.
Though Huzaifa Ibrahim gets leaves from school for tournaments, but he does not leave his studies. Even if he goes to USA for training or some tournament, his father sends him homework there on daily basis and he completes it. However, being a national sportsman, he gets some leverage from teachers when he is unable to complete his assignments. “Teachers do give me some leverage, there are some days where I could not complete my home assignments, but I do not get penalized for that.”
The 13-year old is not only a talented sportsman, but he is also a bright student. Huzaifa strives to maintain the balance between his passion for squash and need of education. “I give lesser time to squash during my exams, I know how important my education is for me even to become a successful squash player,” he stated.
While Huzaifa Ibrahim is a professional athlete, he is also a 13-year old kid, who loves eating chocolates and snacks like any other boy. But, his professionalism is praiseworthy. He gets tempted when his classmates munch crackers at school, but he controls himself as he has bigger dreams to achieve. “My friends eat chocolates and snacks in front of me, but I don’t. I have to maintain my diet to keep myself fit,” he told. “It is sometimes difficult, but I control it.”
He idolizes the Pakistan’s legendary squash players, Jehangir Khan and Jansher Khan. He has got the privilege to not only meet the greatest squash player of all time, Jehangir Khan, but also to play with him. “It was a dream come true to for me,” he said. “He told me to keep working hard and stay focused, you will become a famous squash player one day.”
The youngest of the two brothers and three sisters, has a busy schedule ahead where he is traveling Jordan to compete in Asian Junior Open Squash Championship in August. Then he will fly to USA to participate in Arlen Specter Pennsylvania Junior Squash Championship in October and then play a couple of tournaments there till December of the running year. In the start of 2018, he will compete in British Junior Squash Championship in England.
Huzaifa Ibrahim shared when he has a tournament, not only his parents and friends but also his principal, vice-principal and teachers wish him luck to do well in the tournament. He wants to promote sports activities in the country. He advises his age fellows to follow their dreams. “There is nothing impossible, if you work hard and work honestly, you can achieve anything, be it becoming a tennis player, squash player, cricketer or any other professional.”