For the fourth year in a row, One Team is playing a central role in the Euroleague Basketball China Tour as players from Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion CSKA Moscow lent an assist to inspire youngsters in the world's most populated country on Wednesday morning.
Hours before heading into their first game on the tour, against Sichuan Blue Whales, CSKA players came together with One Team Proud Partner Special Olympics and local schools in Chengdu, China to deliver the One Team message of how the power of basketball can help overcome obstacles and integrate communities.
One Team Global Ambassador Kyle Hines, CSKA One Team Ambassador and team captain Victor Khryapa and their teammate Nikita Kurbanov visited the Chengdu International School, where they shared the basketball court with the large group of young students there in addition to local Special Olympic athletes.
"One Team is one of my most favorite events, so I was happy to get the opportunity to do it here," Hines said, "not only to get the chance to share some special moments and a great time with some great kids here in China, but also to have the great opportunity for us to show and give another example of how basketball can translate and shape positive images no matter where you are or what country you are in."
Through a set of basketball games and drills that stressed the importance of life skills like decision making, communication, creativity and teamwork, the CSKA stars and One Team coaches made it a day to remember for 30 youngsters dressed in One Team t-shirts, but also for their teachers who took part and assisted in the activities.
"It's a different experience, first of all because we are in China, with different kids," Khryapa said. "But doing One Team is always great and well organized. It was a great experience for us, with different kids, with a different mentality, trying to help them also and be part of One Team. Language is not a barrier on a basketball court."
Hines, Khryapa and Kurbanov weren't the only CSKA stars spending the day preaching the One Team gospel. Across town at Chengdu's picturesque Happy Valley Park, reigning EuroLeague MVP Nando De Colo, Cory Higgins and Aaron Jackson promoted those same positive values with another group of Special Olympic athletes.
The work with One Team will not cease after Wednesday's events; All-EuroLeague guard Milos Teodosic, Andrey Vorontsevich and Dmitry Kulagin are scheduled to take part in a similar event on Friday in Shenzhen prior to the second game on the China Tour against Guangdong Tigers. And of course, Hines, Khryapa and their teammates will remain active in One Team causes throughout the season.
CSKA's One Team sessions are the latest in a tradition of Europe'ss best basketball clubs brining the best of what the EuroLeague represents both on and off the court to China. Last year Panathinaikos Athens partnered with different schools in using basketball to help disadvantaged kids with One Team sessions in Hangzhou and Macau. In the two years prior, it was FC Barcelona Lassa and Real Madrid that took the One Team message to Hangzhou and Beijing, respectively.
One Team was created by Euroleague Basketball to use the power of basketball as a tool to integrate at-risk communities in all the countries where its competitions are played through grass-roots activities. Since its founding in 2012, One Team’s activities have reached more than 12,000 participants to date thanks to the help of One Team Founding Patron Turkish Airlines.