Valencia Basket's latest session for One Team – its ninth of the current season – used basketball as a tool to emphasise a very important message: equality.
The Spanish club is working for the seventh year with One Team, Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program, to develop a partnership with local group Mamas En Accion, which supports children who are supported by the government and live in children's homes.
This project has consisted of 10 sessions taking place every Tuesday from November until January. In each activity, participants are encouraged to live positive experiences and develop healthy habits of personal improvement that can be transferred to the school or work environment.
All this comes through the basic concepts of a collective sport such as basketball, which has helped the participants understand the values of sacrifice and responsibility, using sport as a formula for personal growth and development.
The most recent session emphasized equality, and Jose Maria Valero, President of the La Salle Acoge Foundation, believes it was a very effective way of spreading the message.
"The children are learning about effort, cooperation and teamwork, and it is a lovely experience for them," he said. "They see themselves on a large court, in a large arena and they are surrounded by basketball figures who greet them as equals. That makes them grow a lot. It is very important for them."
The children's educators believe all the sessions have made a similarly significant impact, as Mila Lucas from local children's center Hogar Francisco de Asis explained:
"It's a great opportunity for all of them. The girl who comes from my center expresses all her feelings through basketball. At first, she did not want to come because she was new, but now she looks forward to every Tuesday."
Sara Albiach, a psychologist from the Luis Amigo Child Center, supported the central premise of One Team, that the power of basketball can be used to change lives in a meaningful manner: "Sport is good for everybody, but especially for kids in this situation. It gives them a context, with rules that inspire them and help them deal with frustration. It also increases their support network."
According to Berta Robleda, Director of CAM Projecte Obert de Paterna, another success of the program has been the ability of Valencia's One Team coaches to encourage the children to adopt a more positive outlook.
"The fact that these kids leave the streets and find people who care about them and give them this opportunity is a blessing," she said. "Everything they are told at One Team increases their self-esteem and their open-mindedness, in terms of thinking they can do things they never believed possible."
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.