Volunteers are one of the key pieces to ensuring the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four runs smoothly, and this week's group in Cologne has been given a special welcome session by Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program, One Team.
The special event for the group of 35 volunteers was held online due to the pandemic restrictions last Thursday, hosted by Euroleague Basketball Ambassadors and former continental champions Joe Arlauckas and Ramunas Siskauskas, who are both long-term supporters of One Team. Abigail Martin, Euroleague Basketball's Corporate Social Responsibility Director, was also on hand to thank the volunteers for their efforts in support of the Final Four.
Arlauckas said: "Even though the players from the four teams are the stars, the people who make the Final Four really work are those behind the scenes who nobody sees. So every year I always love to meet the volunteers individually at the One Team welcome and tell them that I appreciate the work they do, because without them the Final Four wouldn't have been nearly as successful as it has been over the last couple of decades."
Siskauskas encouraged fans to follow the example of the volunteers and by supporting their local club's One Team project, saying: "Everybody's voice and action is important. Don't forget this: while you keep chasing your dreams, do not miss the opportunity to support your community in any way you can. Be the next One Team Ambassador!"
In addition to the general introduction and welcome, as a team-building exercise, the volunteers were also asked to work together to get free from an escape room based on their knowledge of the values and activities of One Team programs around Europe, including those of the four teams competing in Cologne later this week.
Durmus Sahin, who has been volunteering at the Final Four since 2017, said: "During our virtual team meeting we had a really nice experience. We met with our teammates and played some games together and I refreshed my notes about EuroLeague's culture and the teams' history. It really helped us to be in a good team, and I think it's crucial to have these moments in order to perform well together at the Final Four."
Leandra Mackowiak, a Final Four volunteer for the fourth time, added: "It was a great experience. I am glad I was able to attend the escape room activity because it was fun to answer the questions together with other volunteers as a team. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other before the event starts because you can build a connection as a team before even you meet each other."
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.