Hands placed firmly on the bow, eyes affixed on the target in front, and holding her breath steady to hit the mark is 36-year-old Sara Khan, the subject of everyone’s attention at Peshawar’s Qayyum Sports Complex.
Even though she only coaches the sport now, there is no one to match her skill-set which is why she has been given the responsibility to train the province’s athletes who wish to compete in archery at national and international games.
Always inclined towards sports as a child, Sara would travel with her school for various sports events and it was in Islamabad during one such event that she saw an archery competition and was captivated by the sport. She has not put down the bow and arrow since.
Graduating from University of Peshawar in 2006 with a Master’s degree, Sara recalls that she was active in sports at the varsity as well, where she played volleyball, baseball and softball.
She shared further that in 2003, Sara was also called for a cricket camp to Karachi by the Pakistan Cricket Board for trials leading to selection in the national team. However, her mother, fearful for her daughter going so far away from home to “play a man’s sport”, hid the call-up letter from Sara, thereby depriving her of a chance to make it to the national cricket team.
After completing her studies, Sara explained that she drifted away from sports owing to financial pressure as well as the fact that sports was not encouraged during school years which led to a failure to reach one’s true potential from the start. Moreover, she added, her only brother passed away during that time, leaving her in-charge of her younger sisters’ well-being and the overall family as well.
Nevertheless, Sara vowed to continue her affair with sports and decided to make a career out of it using her talent and degree. At present, she is a sports teacher at a school affiliated with the agriculture university, and also runs an archery club she opened in 2016.
While she has undergone archery training at the army-run archery training school in Rawalpindi, she could not complete the course. Thus, one of her goals remains to undertake international-level coaching classes so she can be better equipped to train others.
Her students at Qayyum Sports Complex — where her club was given space to operate — have the opportunity to learn the sport from a coach, a chance she didn’t have while growing up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Additionally, the space provides opportunities to women and handicapped persons from across the province to hone their talents.
Sara stated that her students have achieved various positions in the national games this year as well. However, her real target is beyond that: to train a player who will represent Pakistan at the Olympics.