Changing lives through basketball: Milan's One Team coaches' story

Dec 21, 2018 by Print
Changing lives through basketball: Milan's One Team coaches' story

Sport has the power to change the world...this slogan hits home when you see a group of school children sitting in a circle, listening with complete attention to two young coaches from AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan, who are talking with great desire to make something wonderful happen through basketball.

"They cannot wait to arrive on Tuesdays, but some of them are unrecognizable in this gym," says the class's regular school teacher, Antonino Ognibene, looking incredulous but also very pleased to see how the children are practicing.

This is the story of One Team, Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program, through the eyes of the specialist coaches from the Milan program whose weekly interaction with children from the city's Via Saponaro School makes such a big difference to their lives. Let's find out how.

Alessandra Stella (psychologist): "Every activity is an opportunity for each of these children to discover themselves as capable, fast and precise, and to redeem themselves for a bad test, for those tasks not done well.

"There is room for everyone on the court, with all their difficulties and all their fears. Failing is no problem. Every mistake is an opportunity for encouragement, not a slap or an insult.

"Choosing to run up to the free-throw line and make a shot for a basket is a decision they can make for themselves. Waiting for a rebound and trying again and again to make a basket brings joy and satisfaction to their heart.

"The building where we practice looks like a simple white rectangle. But it is also a place that contains and protects, sometimes even more than the walls of a house."

Michele Samaden and Marilisa Zanini, One Team coaches:

"Team-building games, getting to know your partner, trusting him and encouraging him…these are very important aspects of life which are emphasized from start to finish in our One Team sessions.

"Simple things like clapping in time, dribbling in the same way, running and stopping, are all exercises aimed at working together, listening better and getting to know the group, the team.

"The children have learned a lot more about their teammates. They are starting to understand each of their skills and limitations. Through basketball, you can integrate with classmates who you had not previously considered or talked to.

"In a team, everyone needs everyone, and when you make a basket the encouragement of a teammate is so important.

"We are all learning how to collaborate as a team, but we are also having fun. There is plenty of time for jokes and laughter.

"Through fun, knowledge and commitment, skills can be developed and improved – not only basketball technique, but also other important lessons like listening, respecting rules and understanding different situations.

"Our project is called 'Basket For Good', and already we are seeing how good basketball can be. Already we are seeing the happiness that basketball can bring."

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 real social impact in our communities. Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program has reached already directly and indirectly 16,000 participants through its various team projects.