Anadolu Efes Istanbul didn’t only enjoy success on the court last season. The Turkish team was also a hit off the court after working with One Team, Euroleague Basketball’s social responsibility program, to create a series of activities using basketball as a tool to encourage social integration.
Over 16 weeks, Efes worked with the Beylikduzu Municipality to help a group of 31 young people with disadvantages such as Down's Syndrome and Autism. Specific exercises were planned to assist the personal development of the children and motivate them in each session, most of which took place at the Aydın Ors Sports Complex.
The club’s One Team Ambassador Tolga Gecim was a strong supporter of the program and there was also active participation from Coach Ergin Ataman and Shane Larkin… not to mention the team mascot Caylak!
One key to the success of the project was the support of seven different local partners, who were all able to add something special to the activities. Coffee and chocolate producer Kahve Dunyasi, for example, organized a chocolate workshop for the participants to enjoy. Another special activity saw members of the Efes fan club join the participants for a session, giving those fans a first-hand understanding of why One Team is so important.
Another highlight of the program was hosting the young athletes and their families at two EuroLeague games and giving them the chance to form a 'High Five Corridor' for the Efes players when they headed out onto the court. They later receive the applause of thousands of fans inside the Sinan Erdem Dome.
The various activities made a big contribution to developing the self-confidence and social skills of the participants, who benefited a huge amount from opportunities they had never previously been able to experience. The chance to play friendly basketball games against the youth teams of the Beylikduzu Municipality also contributed greatly to the athletes’ sense of being part of a team.
Many of the participants’ parents stated that they observed significant positive developments in their children, especially their self-confidence and ability to express themselves.
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.