The recent return to action was not only long-awaited on the court, but also with the work of clubs across Europe to support their local communities through One Team, Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program.
After being forced into a break from their usual activities by the Covid-19 pandemic, little by little clubs are now starting to resume their regular activities – even if they have created new ways of working to ensure the sessions can be delivered in a fully safe environment.
Some clubs have already been able to start on-court sessions, including Zalgiris Kaunas, ALBA Berlin, Real Madrid and TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. All clubs are following the health and safety guidelines set down by their local authorities.
Baskonia's two sessions a fortnight ago were the first the club has been able to provide for seven months, and One Team Manager Dorleta de la Presa was delighted to offer the support that is needed now more than ever by vulnerable people in the local community.
"Being back has been gratifying and inspiring," she said. "The reaction of the children and their families has been very positive. Restarting the activity is a great first step for everything that we can achieve this new season, and even if this year will be a little bit different than before it is still very exciting."
Akvile Dagilyte, Communications Director and One Team Manager at Zalgiris, explained exactly why it was important to restart with One Team activities as soon as possible, saying: "The strict quarantine that took over the world this spring was a tough challenge not only for the sports and entertainment industry or the business world. It was also a truly challenging time for kids, especially in socially disadvantaged communities. That is why we are extremely excited that the situation in Lithuania allows us to renew our One Team sessions and to continue making an impact on local communities.
"Youngsters from Special Olympics were so eager to come to the first sessions of the new season, as One Team has become a breath of fresh air in their daily lives, with many other activities in their surroundings still suspended."
7DAYS EuroCup team Bahcesehir Koleji Istanbul has also started its program after joining One Team this season, and the club's One Team Coach Guray Guven said: "We completed the first introductory week with excitement. Our group consists of 12 immigrant Syrian children and they were so excited to have an experience they have never been given before. They are very energetic and positive, and we will be together for the next eight weeks. We will do very good work through the unifying power of basketball."
Other clubs, including Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana, AX Armani Exchange Milan, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Unicaja Malaga and Partizan NIS Belgrade, have not yet been able to get back onto the court but are already designing online sessions, and they – along with all the other clubs – will continue to react to the ever-changing situation by doing everything possible to send out the message loud and clear: We Are All One Team.
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.