Harringay teen is desperate for sports wheelchair to help her chase basketball dreams

Darya Laksari in wheelchair basketball action (pic Caudwell Children)

Darya Laksari in wheelchair basketball action (pic Caudwell Children) - Credit: Archant

An 18-year-old girl from Harringay is desperately trying to raise funds for a bespoke sports wheelchair to help her progress.

Darya Laksari in wheelchair basketball action (pic Caudwell Children)

Darya Laksari in wheelchair basketball action (pic Caudwell Children) - Credit: Archant

Darya Laksari has a bilateral knee condition that can reduce her mobility and make daily tasks difficult to manage, but has been playing wheelchair basketball since the age of 10.

She has excelled at the sport and is captain of Hackney Sparrows, one of the most respected clubs in the country founded in 1986 by her father Amir, who led them into the National League as head coach a year later.

He continues to coach the team but says without a new wheelchair he worries about his daughter’s future in the game, saying: “Darya is an inspiration to many of the new players coming though at the club.

“She leads by example on the court and is passionate about the game and she dreams of playing for the GB team at the Paralympics.

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“However, in order to play she has to borrow a club wheelchair which puts her at a disadvantage to the other players.

“It doesn’t fit her properly, which can be uncomfortable, and it reduces her speed and mobility on the court.

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“I worry that without a bespoke wheelchair she may not develop into the player she wants to become.”

Darya started playing wheelchair basketball when she felt she was being excluded from sport at school. Her condition was initially undiagnosed and teachers assumed she was being lazy in PE lessons.

Now she has ambitions of a career in sport and Amir added: “She loves music and writing stories and is currently studying at Access Creative Music College, whilst also undertaking a diploma in sporting excellence.

“So she will have a career path in sports and disabilities.”

When it became obvious his daughter needed her own chair Amir was determined to buy one for her but knew there would be a considerable financial barrier.

“The wheelchair that would best suit Darya’s needs is perfectly designed to improve her agility and speed on court,” he explained. “However, whilst I know it would take her to the next level these chairs don’t come cheap and at nearly £3,200 it’s way beyond my budget.”

Now, thanks to fundraising support from Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, Amir has started a campaign to help raise the money needed for the specialist equipment.

He said: “The charity is contacting a number of different organisations including rotary clubs, mason’s lodges and other charities and they’ve also helped to set up a Just Giving page for Darya.

“However, I’d like to appeal to the public and the business community and ask them to give me a helping hand. With their support I believe my daughter can progress further in the game.”

Mark Bushell, from Caudwell Children, is urging the public to support Darya’s appeal and said: “Darya plays for a fantastic club that was the springboard for Ade Adepitan’s success.

“Knowing that he went on to star in the GB team that won a bronze medal in the 2004 Paralympics, and forge a successful television and media career, must be a great source of inspiration to players like Darya.

“But without the right equipment to play her sport she may lose the confidence and ambition that is so important to young people.

“Not only that playing sport also keeps disabled children and young people fit and helps them meet new friends, whilst increasing their independence.

“I’m urging the public and business community to get behind this appeal. With their support we can ensure that Darya has the specialist equipment that she so desperately needs in order to develop and thrive in the game.”

To make a donation go to https://www.justgiving.com/chair4darya.

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