The one-month countdown to the 2016 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four in Berlin was celebrated in a unique way on Monday, with One Team and Stay in the Game collaborating on a court refurbishment in the German capital.
It was a fun and festive day for youngsters at Grundschule am Teltowkanal school in Neukoelln district of Berlin as their home court got an uplift and they were able to meet and play with Patrick Femerling, the Final Four Local Ambassador and a former Euroleague champion, and Akeem Vargas, the ALBA Berlin One Team Ambassador.
The event marked the third such court refurbishment ceremony in the last month since Euroleague Basketball and partner Dogus Group joined forces with their corporate social responsibility programmes One Team and Stay in the Game, respectively. After the collaboration started with a One Team-Stay in the Game educational programme clinic in Istanbul, then moved to open courts at two locations in Athens, the Final Four host city on Monday became the latest venue where the One Team-Stay In the Game initiative gives children a better environment in which to use basketball to positively affect their lives.
"This has been a great chance to bring the spirit of the Final Four to the young people in our community," Femerling said. "It shows them that before all the excitement they'll see around the event here next month, people were thinking of them, too. That says a lot about how Euroleague Basketball and Dogus Group approach an event whose positive impact goes beyond the games themselves."
The message that basketball imparts life-enhancing values was reinforced in Berlin with a One Team practice session of drills that teach creativity and decision-making before the ALBA Berlin One Team participants in attendance were able to join in an exhibition game with the One Team ambassadors. Vargas was well familiar with Grundschule am Teltowkanal because ALBA Berlin also collaborates with the school through its youth programme.
"As someone who has already seen One Team really help children here in Berlin, I think it's great to bring a supporting initiative to this school like we saw today," Vargas said. "It's another reason I'm excited that the Final Four is coming to town soon, because every young person who gets touched by One Team will remember its positive message for a long time."
Among the many dignitaries in on hand to celebrate the occasion were: Jan-Christopher Rämer, District council of Berlin Neukölln for Sport & School; Mr. Robert Himberg, Grundschule am Teltowkanal DirecTOr; Abigail Martín, Head of CSR & Development Projects, Euroleague Basketball; and Selin Kocak, Head of CSR, Dogus Group.
It was only fitting that a One Team event, which serves as the official curtain-raiser for the Final Four every year, started the countdown to this season’s pinnacle event, too. The refurbished court is part of the legacy that Euroleague Basketball plans to leave behind to assure that Berlin continues benefitting from its role as Final Four host long after a Euroleague champion is crowned in the German capital on May 15.
Now five years old, 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. In association with Stay in the Game, the One Team programme aims to become stronger in the effort to make the lives of at-risk youngsters better through basketball.