Last season's One Team program has seen FC Barcelona continue its work with a local youth penitentiary center with the aim of using basketball to teach the inmates to take initiative, accept responsibility, show respect to others and follow established rules.
The program involved males between 18 and 24 years old who participated in the program on a weekly basis. One of those is A, a youngster from the Dominican Republic who has attended every possible One Team session for the last two seasons.
At the start of the program, the main challenge identified to help A grow as a person was his ability to bond with others. Developing mutual trust and respect did not come quickly, but the club's One Team coach, Marta Piqué, explained that over time both have allowed A to make important personal progress.
"From the very first day we met, we have always got on well and there has been respect between us. But at first, he put up barriers and wouldn't open up," Piqué explains. "All of our conversations were limited to polite exchanges and saying 'thank you' at the end of the activity.
"Opening up to strangers who appear in their lives is not always easy, but he slowly started to choose to share his personal experiences with me about his life in prison, his personal experiences and even his plans for the future. We gradually managed to overcome taboos, which is so important among such groups."
Developing this bond with his coach also has allowed A to become a more confident and assertive member of the wider group, so his personal development has also been very positive for the other participants.
"He has been able to stand out as one of the leaders of the group," says Piqué. "He has played a key positive leadership role with his companions this year. Developing this role without imposing anything has helped him to speak in a more relaxed manner with his peers. He has learned to communicate with them more assertively, always taking into account the capacities of each person in the group, something which was not as evident last year.
"If he is highly motivated, the others follow his lead and are more willing to act like he does. If some people find an activity harder than others, he is always ready to help out and help them to improve. He has also taken on the role of host with new inmates. Thanks to his warm welcomes, people who were worried about joining the activity have felt more comfortable when they find that somebody from the group is attentive to them. That has helped to expand the number of people who have decided to carry on with the activity."
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 22,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.