AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan has been supporting a group of children, from the Don Gnocchi Foundation, with limited intellectual functioning (FIL) as part of One Team, Euroleague Basketball’s social responsibility program.
The Italian team carried out its 'FILing Good'’ project with 22 young people, providing an intensive rehabilitation program with the aim of helping them overcome difficulties in various areas of development. Sessions took place twice per month between February and May, working with children aged 7 to 11 from different schools in the suburban area of Milan.
Basketball was used as a starting point to help the children develop their cognitive abilities and motor skills, as well as creating social relationships. The sessions were guided by the club's One Team coaches, who identified the most appropriate activities to involve all the participants.
Neurologist Valeria Blasi oversaw the program, and she explained why basketball was such an effective tool for helping the children: "We have been dealing with children with limited intellectual functioning for many years, and we have developed a series of therapeutic pathways to help them overcome their difficulties.
"These paths concern activities such as learning to write, read, to understand emotions and how to relate to others, and of course to improve motor skills. These activities are fundamental because typically children with FIL are considered lazy, listless and unsuited to school.
"This influences the perception that the children have of themselves, convinced that they are worth little because they are always behind their companions. We try to find solutions and strategies to improve their skills, so they can grasp all their areas of competence and their potential.
"We asked Olimpia Milan to help us because we believe the game of basketball has so many aspects that make it very useful for achieving our goals: it is a complex game that requires coordination skills, but also the inhibition of impulsive actions; it is a team game that therefore enhances the role of each individual with their own characteristics, and then it is also a beautiful game and there is nothing like beauty to motivate people.
"We feel absolutely satisfied with this experience and hope to be able to work together with the club in future projects as well."
Child neuropsychiatrist Michela Zanette, who was responsible for the rehabilitation planning of the project, added: "We have seen professional coaches create games and activities that have stimulated our children to get everyone involved, and also teaching them to always try and never give up on difficulties or obstacles.
"No other game is as beautiful as basketball, and it is able to put our children in motion: we saw them motivated, happy and all involved. This experience with Olimpia Milan has confirmed that sport can represent an important and useful part in elevating life."
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.