At the boiling point of the season, Zalgiris Kaunas has been working hard both on and off the court, continuing to support Euroleague Basketball's highly successful social responsibility program, One Team.
Marius Grigonis and Thomas Walkup , the club's One Team Ambassadors, recently spent the afternoon joining a session with the second group of kids in this season's project, sharing their life experiences and encouraging the youngsters to aim for their goals.
Walkup was excited to be a part of the project, helping the kids to find a suitable role model and putting them in a positive environment.
"Today was awesome," he said after the session. "We sat around the circle, we shared experiences from our past -- good things, bad things. Then we talked about the importance of positive influences, just stuff that young kids could really take advantage of. Stuff that people like me and Marius were lucky enough to have when we were younger.
"We talked about our goals, all sorts of things for a positive future for these kids. Euroleague Basketball is doing an awesome job with One Team, to help these kids, put them in a positive situation, and help them look up to the right sort of people. I'm just glad I could be a part of it, for sure."
This year's One Team partner for Zalgiris is the local Psychological Support and Counselling Center, which provides professional help to different kinds of people, from teenagers to family consulting. The Kaunas Regional Probation Service youth also joined the project in this second semester.
The program consists of 12 weekly sessions with each group, where the youth's values and skills are developed through the game of basketball. The kids not only get to meet and greet with Zalgiris basketball players, but also try their hand and have meetings with representatives from football, rugby and integrated basketball. Sports psychologist Aiste Zemaityte is also taking part to offer a different perspective.
Sarunas Klizas, a project coordinator from the Psychological Support and Counselling Center, noted the importance of the One Team project and stressed the impact it has on those young people.
"Perhaps the most important thing in this project is to show kids that they're capable," Klizas said. "They're capable of being a part of a team, capable of reaching for goals together, despite being of a different age, different education, height, gender. And despite all that, they can still fit so well as a team. These things are very important and help in everyday life. That's what sport is all about, it always educates you.”
For the second year running, club sponsor Ramirent is also continuing to join the efforts and make the project as meaningful as possible, seeking to push the participants to aim higher and achieve better results for the program as a whole.
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.