One Team – Euroleague Basketball’s social responsibility program – reached another milestone by announcing new ambassadors of the project at Zalgiris Kaunas, with Kevin Pangos and Paulius Valinskas becoming the role models for One Team participants from the Kaunas youth detention center.
The teenagers met the new ambassadors at Zalgirio Arena. First, they were given a tour of the facilities by Zalgiris athletic coach Justinas Grainys, who also showed the youngsters some physical drills on the arena’s practice court.
The two-hour session reached new heights when the new ambassadors joined the meeting and sat down for a round-table talk with the One Team participants. Pangos and Valinskas told their personal stories and stressed the importance of choosing the right friends while seeking a goal in life.
“I had some friends who were making not the best decisions in their lives,” said Pangos. “I also met some people who try to bring you down when you are doing well. You need to avoid them and do the things that you think are important. I have some small goals I think of every morning and I have bigger general goals – all of that keeps life exciting.”
22-year old Valinskas revealed he was never described as the talent of his generation, but hard work and dedication paid off when he was invited to Zalgiris main team last season.
“I was playing for pleasure when I was a kid, but when I was 14 or 15 I decided to become a professional basketball player,” he said. “I was looking up to my idols and I realized that I wanted to be like them. I wasn’t good when I started playing, I was playing for B teams, and there were many more talented prospects at my age. But I never stopped believing in myself, worked hard and finally reached my goal.”
Before the session was over the Zalgiris players, club administration and One Team participants joined up for a group photo and agreed to meet again with the aim of becoming better people.
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 meaningful social impact in our 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-focussed projects.