Wheelchair basketball representative and UniRec member Sheldon Larsen is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, travelling to South Africa tomorrow to fulfil a five-month contract with Kwazulu Marlins Basketball Club.
He was scouted while on tour in South Africa with the New Zealand men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team last year and was approached by the club with an offer to join their team for the 2016 SuperSport Wheelchair Basketball Series season.
With ambitions to broaden his knowledge and experience, Larsen didn’t have to think twice before accepting the club’s offer.
“I just snapped it up and said yes straight away,” he laughed.
“Playing in a semi-professional league has always been a dream of mine and I had just been given the chance to do it on a fully-funded scholarship, there’s no way I could have said no.”
He will fly to Johannesburg on 21 April to play in a pre-season tournament with his new team, before travelling to Durban where he will be based for the next five months.
Although the arrangement had been on the cards since last year, the reality of it all had only recently hit the Waikato local.
“They said they’d be in touch but it took ages for me to hear from them,” explained Larsen.
“I thought it had all fallen through but then the last month has just been full on. The contracts are all signed, the funding has been put through and my flights are all finalised.”
Competing in the SuperSport Series is an opportunity for Larsen to make a lasting impression on selectors from European leagues. Playing professionally in Europe is one of his ultimate long-term goals.
“My goal is to go hard and just get my name out there. To get scouted or asked to come back to the club again next year would be amazing.”
As well as attending two three-hour trainings and playing for the club each week, Larsen will spend some of his downtime coaching wheelchair basketball in community schools.
To help him prepare himself for the league, Larsen became a member at UniRec, visiting the centre daily to take advantage of the weights room and full-sized basketball court.
“I’ve been spending about three hours a day at UniRec preparing for the season ahead. Having so many different options inside the one facility has been extremely beneficial and I’ll definitely continue training there when I get back.”
The team here at UniRec would like to wish you all the best for your travels and upcoming wheelchair basketball season. We're so glad you'll be back to train with us when you return and we can't wait to hear all about it!
To keep up with Sheldon's adventure online, you can follow the below Facebook pages: