The new season for One Team – Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program – is up and running for several clubs around Europe, with activities to support local communities already taking place on a regular basis.
In Croatia, 7DAYS EuroCup contestant Cedevita Zagreb has continued its association with social partner Down 21, a locally-based association that works with Down's Syndrome sufferers aged between 16 and 23 and is run by the parents of the children involved. As it embarks upon another year of activities, Cedevita is inspired by the story of one of last season's participants, Marija.
Born in Zagreb with Down's Syndrome, Marija is in her early twenties and during her childhood always had great difficulties playing sports. When she first joined One Team a few years ago, she had trouble dealing with defeat and suffered from low self-confidence, which often resulted in her isolating herself from her teammates.
Over the course of the program, though, Marija learned how to cope with losing and how to better work with other people. Gradually, her battling spirit and desire to succeed allowed her to stand out from the crowd.
After a few months, Marija started to take her new-found love of basketball very seriously. Amazingly, she is now training to represent Croatia at the Paralympics, demonstrating a significant change in her ambition, her approach towards goal setting, and her potential for personal achievement.
Matea Milisa, Cedevita's One Team coach, is understandably proud of Marija's progress, saying: "During the four years that Marija has been training with us, we have seen her improve on a personal, individual level, but also as a team player on a social level.
"When she first came to us, she had a notable fear of failure and losing. Through physical exercise and regular participation in team-based activities, Marija has grown to cope with not winning, improved her social awareness and learned that everything is easier when you have your teammates guarding your back."
Throughout the new season, Cedevita will be working with future Marijas in a program that takes place once every two weeks under the guidance of One Team coaches who use specially-designed basketball drills to develop key life skills. In particular, the drills focus on building self-confidence and motivation, inspiring the participants to reach their potential in life.
As the example of Marija shows, there can be spectacular results.
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 16,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.