The power of Euroleague Basketball’s One Team program has been demonstrated by the example of Yael Grigsby, a teenager who has been participating with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv’s activities.
Basketball fan Yael, 16, relocated to Israel from his native United States a year ago and decided to move to the Ayanot youth village, an educational centre near Tel Aviv which has been working closely with Maccabi’s One Team program for the last two seasons.
He has become a regular participant in the club’s One Team sessions, and has found his involvement to be hugely positive – both in adjusting to life a new country and in helping him focus upon his aspirations for the future.
“In the 10th grade I joined ‘One Team’ and I feel the project has contributed to me on many levels,” he said. “I have learned to work in a group, to trust my friends, responsibility, and meeting deadlines and goals.”
The program has involved sessions with the club’s One Team Ambassadors Devin Smith and Nikola Vujcic, as well as Maccabi’s forward Joe Alexander, and Yael was particularly inspired by the opportunity to spend time with such experienced and successful basketball professionals.
“Basketball is the number one important thing in my life and my dream when I was little was to be like them,” he said.
“For me to meet basketball players who have been through a lot and have so much experience is great. I can learn from them and it helps me to become a better man. I’ve become more patient and understood that it’s not just me in the world, and I’ve got to help and push other people.”
Yael certainly made a big impression on the people he met, with Maccabi’s long-serving forward and team captain Smith saying: “The encounter with Yael was very moving. It was fun to see a child with so much passion and a desire to succeed.
“He told me how much the connection to Maccabi gives him the strength to continue dreaming and to know that someday he too can play for Maccabi.”
And Vujcic, who won two EuroLeague titles with Maccabi and is now the club’s general manager, added: “I was amazed to see a charming child who really likes basketball and wants to reach as far as possible.
“I explained to him that with a passion like his and with a desire to succeed everything is possible. And that it's important to keep your values.”
One Team, supported by Turkish Airlines as the One Team Founding Patron and with the collaboration of Special Olympics as Proud Partner, uses basketball to achieve real social impact in our communities.
Since its founding in 2012, the One Team programme has reached already directly and indirectly 12,000 participants through its various team projects.
One Team also gave Yael the opportunity to meet Maccabi legend Doron Jamchy, the Israel national team’s all-time leading scorer, who emphasised the importance of having the right attitude.
"If Yael continues to have the same kind of positive approach to what he’s doing in life, I am sure he will be very successful and happy, wherever the future might take him.”