Budgam girl, Bilqis Maqbool silenced her critics not by indulging in arguments but rather by bringing laurels to Valley after she bagged five consecutive gold medals in different national championships.She also participated in the World Pencak Silat championship held in Thailand getting recognition as an international player.Maqbool qualified for the World Junior Championship in Thailand in 2018. However, she was defeated in the semi-finals. She now hopes to clear the trials for the Asian Games in 2022 and to be part of the national team.Hailing from Budgam meant lack of facilities, so she used travel daily to the Srinagar Indoor Stadium. She began at the local level, progressed to the state level, and then competed in nationals in several states around the country.Maqbool was picked for the international level after achieving success in many national-level contests, and competed in the international championship in Thailand.17-year-old, Bilqis Maqbool hails from village Bugroo in central Kashmir’s Budgam district and is third among her siblings.She started playing Pencak Silat in 2017 at the age of 13.She , was introduced to the sport by her at JK Public School situated at Humhama, Budgam.Bilqis is currently studying in 12th standard at Government Kothibagh Higher Secondary School.“I started my Pencak Silat journey at JK Public School, the game was introduced to me by my teacher Seerat. Then I took part in district level competitions then participated in nationals and international championships,” Maqbool told Rising Kashmir.Soon after, she impressed selectors through her performance where she was selected for district championships. While showcasing her brilliance in district-level competitions she was selected for the state-level level championship.“After bagging gold at the state level I got selected for the national championship,” she says and added “I played my first national championship in Maharashtra where I won a gold medal and found the sport interesting,” she says.Sharing her first experience about taking part for the first time in the national championship in Maharashtra she says first time made her nervous but excited as well.“I was the lone player representing J&K in Maharashtra and it was fascinating as I could experience different cultures and learned different techniques there,” she says and added “Bagging gold in national debut game boosted my confidence and raised my interest in this sport to such extent that since then I did not look back and now I wanted to take it to another level professionally,” she asserts.She believes that her transformation moment from a common girl to tough sports athlete was when she bagged second gold in nationals.“It was the moment which multiplied my self-confidence and self-belief immensely,” she says,” adding, “It was a moment where I realised my potential in this sport thus I made my mind for playing Silat as much as I can,” she recalls.However, to her, playing at an international level was a unique and different experience besides encountering people of various cultures from different countries while taking part on the foreign soil.“As I had to lock horns with participants from different countries there, it was a new experience, not only that I came to know about a different culture, techniques which I got to learn,” she says.As she was desperate to learn Pencak Silat from an early age the difficult part was to travel from Budgam to Srinagar.“I had to travel to Srinagar to play this game, which most of the time was very different for me,” she says, and added, “Luckily after we got recently Khelo India Centre at Budgam which paved way for better practicing sessions and saved my training time.”Recalling an incident while playing at Jammu where she got injured, she said, “As this sport is a full-body fighting form incorporating strikes, grappling, and throwing in which every part of the body is used and is subject to attack, people criticized me,” she said.She added that though she had been injured many times, which is part of the game, one incident she thinks she can never forget is when she was playing at Jammu University in 2019 where she got a leg injury soon after which she had to face a lot of criticism.“I have maintained a balance between my studies and practice sessions, I practice in the morning, and evening,” she said, adding that she is good in studies as well and has obtained 466 marks out of 500 in tenth standard in 2020.“But the players from outside have advanced sports facilities in their respective schools or educational institutions which we are lacking here in the valley,” she said.She says that when I step outside J&K, people would raise questions like what will I do there, what is the need of going outside and play sports.She says it is because of her family support that she is standing where she is right now.“It was by their support I could prove my mettle not only in J&K but also at the national arena,” she says. “My parents are my inspiration, particularly my father, who always supported me. My father wants me to win a gold medal in Asian Championships and I am determined enough to fulfill his dream,” she says.“I would like to suggest to youth, especially girls that chase your dream, have firm determination, and do not pay heed to criticism and taunts. Never give up your dream, work on that rather than what people say about you,” she says.“When you know you are right then move ahead for your brighter future, leave criticism and critics behind, convince your parents, they definitely will support,” she said.She says as far as sport is concerned it not only forms a strong body and mind but also helps in the formation of strong character and willpower and discipline.“It is through sport I am being recognised in society,” she says.In an appeal to JK administration she said that the administration must provide scholarships and sponsorships to the sportspersons particularly to those who come from economically weaker sections of the society.She is aiming for a medal in the Asian Games.