Unicaja Malaga is supporting its local community despite social restrictions during the pandemic by running online sessions for its One Team program. For the third consecutive season, the 7DAYS EuroCup club is working with Down Malaga, an association which was founded 20 years ago by a group of parents whose children have Down Syndrome, with the objective of improving their quality of life and giving them more independence.
Weekly online sessions are taking place every Tuesday afternoon, using the example of basketball as a tool for social integration and promoting personal values.
"We work on the value of respect, as well as care, respecting our environment and being cautious," says Jose Carlos Gaspar, the club's One Team Manager and Director of Sales, Public Relations, Protocol and Social Marketing. He explained that the video sessions include exercises with and without the ball: "They are precautionary activities such as protecting the ball and defending it, which we transfer to daily life so that the participants value the importance of such precaution and prevention."
These exercises are supported by the contribution of Unicaja's One Team Ambassador, Adam Waczynski. The Polish forward has been very involved with One Team for several years and helped develop the activities, as well as joining a session to congratulate the participants on their good work.
Waczynski said: "In this difficult and strange year we could not do our sessions on the basketball court, but we continue to be in contact with the Down Malaga team and they are doing a fantastic job at home – enjoying work, school and improving in many areas of life. Each of them is making an incredible effort to feel good. I love spending time with them and seeing the smiles on their faces. We can't meet in person but it's the best we can do for now. Better days will come, and I think we will enjoy them together very soon."
The support of the Fundacion Unicaja and Unicaja Banco, along with the collaboration of the companies that make up SponsorTeam, the social sponsorship strategy of Unicaja Baloncesto, have also been important for the continuous development of the One Team program, with the participation and direct help from its members in various sessions.
Ricardo Fernandez-Palacios, president of Down Malaga, comments: "We want to thank Unicaja Baloncesto because despite the difficulties that the current pandemic and health alert situation impose upon us, they have found the formula to maintain contact so our young people with Down Syndrome can still practice basketball on equal terms with other people through One Team. We are confident that we will soon be able to return to the classroom environment, but for now we support this initiative that keeps team spirit alive."
Maria Gallardo, one of the participants of Down Malaga, adds: "This year we have to settle for doing sports online, but whatever is connected with basketball we love it. I know that soon we will again share training on the court, all of us together."
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.