Noorena Shams steps up for betterment of squash in Pakistan

Her foundation will support two young players

August 27, 2023
Noorena Shams is a Pakistani professional squash player - Instagram/noorenasshams

KARACHI: For the past many years, Squash in Pakistan has been, more or less, a foregone conclusion as the sport has descended into a bottomless pit of mediocrity.

Lack of financial support and proper coaches to boost mental and physical health has meant that the raw talent in the country is not nurtured and, as a result, finds it difficult to compete at the international level.

However, all hope is not lost as a section of the private sector in Pakistan is doing its bit in ensuring that squash players are adequately supported.

One such initiative has been launched by Pakistan’s professional squash player Noorena Shams. Apart from health and education, the ‘Noorena Shams Foundation’ also aims to support squash players in Pakistan.

Noorena, who hails from Lower Dir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is also the youngest and only South Asian athlete to sit in four governing bodies of different sports to make policies.

At a young age of 26, she has also been featured by many global entities, such as Human Rights Watch, Malala Fund and United Nations, in order to recognise the work she has done for the betterment of athletes, women and children in Pakistan.

Recently, her foundation announced that it would be supporting, with the help of a sponsor, two U19 squash players, Zohra Abdullah and Fawad Khan, in order to help them achieve their dreams.

“Basically in July [this year], I launched a campaign which was an appeal to international donors that if you donate $4 a day it will make $120 a month, which can help an athlete in Pakistan to get training,” Noorena told

“Fawad Khan, who is number 4 in U19, struggles to make end meets. I forwarded his case to potential sponsor who committed to pay him a monthly stipend. That will cover coach fee, nutrition and transportation. Similarly it will help Zohra Abdullah. She comes from extremely humble background but has bronze medal in national games,” she added.

By launching this campaign and her foundation, Noorena wants to create a system where such talented players get connected to potential donors.

She has also successfully funded national tours for kids through her social media accounts.

“I have been trying to help players from the past decade by just posting on social media. Last year I was able to get atleast $700 by just one post on Twitter [now known as X] for Sana Bahadur, who can’t speak or listen, a Pakistan Army squash player who was in the United States for US Junior 2022,” she said.

“There was a player named Haseeb, who needed hearing aid. We were able to support him and he went on to claim fifth position in the world during the special games. I was also able to help Zaib-un-Nisa for her training and education who later on represented Pakistan in Women’s U19 Cricket World Cup.”

Noorena has also helped players with rent and health issues while also sorting out visa fees for coaches’ courses abroad.

However, if Pakistan wants players like Hamza Khan, who recently won the World Junior Squash Championship, to emulate greats like Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan and dominate on the world stage, both the public and the private sector will have to step up and support squash in the country.  

Muneeb Farrukh is a senior staffer at