Anadolu Efes Istanbul has been presented with the top prize in the One Team Awards for its outstanding work in the local community during the 2018-19 season.
The Turkish club took the Gold Award during a presentation ceremony as part of the ninth One Team Annual Workshop in Barcelona on Friday morning. Unicaja Malaga and Tofas Bursa were also honored with the Silver and Bronze Awards, respectively.
All 40 clubs in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup supported One Team – Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program – throughout the season, using the power of basketball to support vulnerable members of their communities.
One Team was founded in 2012 and has rapidly grown in recent years, directly impacting thousands of people through regular activities focused on personal development within a team-oriented environment.
The annual awards, which were presented on Friday for the third time, are intended to celebrate and champion the most inspiring and effective programs carried out by the clubs. Along with the winning trio, this year's six-team shortlist of award nominees also included Asseco Arka Gdynia, AX Armani Exchange Milan and FC Barcelona.
Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu, who presented the awards, applauded the efforts of all 40 clubs to bring about beneficial outcomes for the neediest in their communities: "When One Team started it was a very small program, so I am very proud to see how it has grown in the last few years. That says a lot about how hard our teams have been working to make One Team a success, and I am grateful for your time, effort and commitment. The most important thing in life is people, and the power of basketball is just a tool for us to support communities.
"One of Euroleague Basketball's objective is to make people happy. And even more than our Final Fours or any other exciting moments in the season, we make people happy and help people through One Team."
Efes's gold-winning program was delivered in partnership with Special Olympics and focused on the social inclusion of intellectually disabled people. Utku Yusuf Ozciger, the club's Digital Media and Marketing Supervisor, said: "This is our third year in a row being shortlisted so it's a great feeling to get the Gold Award. Our mission through One Team is to identify disadvantaged groups and help them integrate in society through basketball, and other clubs all over Europe are doing the same. As we always say, we are all one team, we are a family, and it's great to see One Team now impacting so many people."
Unicaja worked with a new partner, Down Malaga, during the 2018-19 season. Jose Carlos Gaspar, Unicaja's One Team Manager, said: "We started working with Down Malaga this season as one of our projects to help local people with Down Syndrome and their families, and they are great people who did amazing work, every day ready on time and with huge motivation. They are the key to this and they deserve this award. I also want to thank the Unicaja Fundación and Unicaja Bank. We know that every One Team practice is very important for Down Malaga, and we are looking forward to working with them again next season."
Bronze Award winner Tofas developed its One Team program with Renk Autism. Efe Sekerci, the Turkish club's One Team Manager, explained: "The rate of autism among children in Bursa is going up, so we wanted to raise awareness of this situation by partnering with Renk. Renk's ambition and enthusiasm, along with our planning, make a great match, and this project makes us really proud. One Team gives us the chance to reach out and try to solve problems through basketball."
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 19,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.