Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul star Luigi Datome may be in the middle of helping his team defend the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title, but he still finds time to support his club’s efforts with One Team, the competition’s social responsibility program. This season Fenerbahce joined forces with Special Olympics Turkey to run its One Team program, which aims to encourage the social inclusion of intellectually disabled people and to break stereotypes within the local community.
The eight-week program runs every 10 days and is tailor-made for a group of 12 participants with intellectual disabilities as well as 10 neurotypical participants. The program also incorporates the active involvement of 22 family members, 10 volunteers and 4 coaches.
Datome serves as his club’s One Team Ambassador and earlier this month he welcomed the participants to a special practice session at Ulker Sports and Events Hall.
The Italian star believes it is important to make a positive impact in the local community. "I know that every club throughout Europe is working hard with the One Team program to support people who have difficulties in life, and it really is a pleasure for me to try to help," he said. "As professional basketball players, we are in a privileged position to make a real difference in people's lives. This is especially important for young people who are at risk of being marginalized by society and I hope the group from Special Olympics Turkey have been inspired by their visit to our arena."
Throughout the program, Fenerbahce’s One Team coaches are using the power of basketball to focus on key life skills such as cooperation, self-confidence, motivation, communication and discipline. The club’s program is highlighted by the inclusion of participants with and without intellectual disabilities and the role that families and volunteers can develop during the activities.
One Team, supported by Turkish Airlines as the One Team Founding Patron, and with the collaboration of Special Olympics as its Proud Partner, uses basketball to achieve meaningful social impact in communities across Europe and is supported by every club in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup. Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program has already helped more than 14,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.