‘Values such as discipline, teamwork, persistence, kindness and honesty apply to every single aspect of your life’
By Catalina Peláez Casasfranco (Squash Mad Correspondent)
Playing squash for 21 years has taught me more than I could ever imagine. It had pushed me physically and emotionally to my limits, but it has also helped me to overcome injuries and rough times.
I was recently invited to the Women’s National Encounter hosted in my home city of Bogotá, Colombia, to give a short speech on sports motivation for women.
I talked about how sports have change my life and how they have helped me to grow in every way. I was impressed and nervous with all the women I saw from different Colombian regions, but at the same time I was excited to be there.
I started by introducing myself and talked about how sports, especially squash, has given me the motivation and the strength to overcome rough times in my life. How the sport has made me stronger, has pushed me to be a better person, a better athlete, and has given me so many different life opportunities.
In the year 2003, I was a victim of the Colombian armed conflict. I was in a car bomb explosion at Club El Nogal, led by the F.A.R.C, which was one of the biggest terrorists’ groups in my country.
I had already started playing squash and I was improving a lot. After this terrorist attack, I was lucky that a man found me, picked me up and took me out of the club. I had many injuries, couldn’t walk for two months, and couldn’t play squash for about five months.
Most of the time, all I could think of was to get better to be able to do sports. Sports was my motivation and my salvation during those hard times.
Sports are for everyone, and it is definitely an excellent path to take because it teaches you so many values such as discipline, teamwork, persistence, kindness and honesty that apply to every single aspect of your life.
Sports makes you want to be better. It teaches you not to give up and in the future, without you even noticing it, you are inspiring people who have followed your career and your life.
Thank you, Catalina
Thank you to Catalina for sharing her incredible, inspirational story. Ten years or so after her terrible injuries in a car bomb attack, she attended Trinity College in the USA and reached a highest world ranking of 56 in October 2015.
In 2019, she and Miguel Angel Rodriguez won the gold medal in the mixed doubles competition in the Pan-American Games held in Lima, Peru.
Catalina has won numerous gold medals for Colombia in the South American Games, in team events and doubles, and she won the singles championship in 2018 in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
On a personal note, I would like to thank Catalina for all her help in promoting World Squash Day with so many brilliant graphics showing her immense creative talents.
Pictures courtesy of Catalina Peláez Casasfranco