Every year Turkish Airlines EuroLeague teams make deep connections with hundreds of fans via activities through various One Team programmes. Each situation and story is unique and while some connections are instant, other cases are years in the making. During the last three seasons, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria-Gasteiz and its 5+11 Foundation joined forces with the Gizarterako Association to create a One Team programme focused on community inclusion and the end result was something special.
The 5+11 Foundation’s goal is to promote healthy lifestyle habits with boys and girls in the area, such as sportsmanship, hard work and teamwork. After collaborating with One Team, the Foundation launched a programme with two groups of eight children, all of whom are from immigrant backgrounds and potentially excluded groups. The boys and girls, aged 6 to 12, came from the basketball school and worked together once a week. One of the participants who showed the most growth over the course of the programme is named Awesome.
Awesome is a young girl of Nigerian descent in the Basque region of northern Spain. She first came in contact with One Team in September 2013 at the tender age of 5, when her mother came to Gizarterako Center for a seminar to help prepare her to seek employment. Awesome had until that point only socialized in communities of Nigerian and other African immigrants and struggled to integrate with her peers in the Vitoria-Gasteiz community.
Initially, Awesome was reluctant to participate in One Team sessions; she was of small stature, skinny and weak, easily scared, and introverted. Awesome refused any attempt at physical contact. Her attitude during the first two years was difficult; she often cried and was unwilling to participate in the activities proposed by coaches. However the inclusion of a social worker within the staff structure proved to be a great asset for Awesome, who soon started to participate in the One Team activities. Over time, her attitude and attention during the sessions improved and her relationships with teammates changed completely as the basketball court became a place to play with friends.
Now, the basketball court is a source of excitement for Awesome in general and even more so when it comes to One Team sessions. Her change in attitude over the nearly three years is remarkable; once she was sad, resisted eye contact and sought to separate herself from the group. Today she arrives from practices and sessions with a smile depicting emotions of happiness and love, which have overtaken her initial fears and sadness and made Awesome a leader among her teammates. Awesome can be counted on to spread her enthusiasm to her teammates and family members thanks to her personal growth under the wings of the One Team programme.
Now finishing its fifth year, One Team was created by Euroleague Basketball to use the power of basketball as a tool to integrate at-risk communities in 14 countries through grass-roots activities that have reached more than 10,000 participants to date thanks to the help of One Team Founding Patron Turkish Airlines.