As part of One Team, Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program, Olympiacos Piraeus has been working with Exelixi Zois, a local organization that provides support and care to people who have spent time in closed child-protection institutions.
A group of female participants learned different life skills through specially designed basketball drills in a positive and safe environment and, at the age of 13, 'R' was the youngest member of the group. She is smart and strong-willed with a likeable personality, but her eagerness and enthusiasm could make her easily distracted and less integrated with the larger group of girls.
Over the course of several sessions, Olympiacos's One Team coaches aimed to support 'R' in integrating with the rest of the girls, using sport to teach her about teamwork and interpersonal relationships. She adjusted very well, was gradually given more responsibility, and then transitioned smoothly into leadership positions.
Everyone working with 'R' noticed her increase in ambition, compassion and determination during the One Team program, and Dimitra Kalantoni, President and CEO of Exelixi Zois, said: "She has a gifted personality and is a shining example of creative action, having all the potential to excel in her life. We are really glad that many of her qualities were intensified thanks to the support offered by Exelixi Zois, whose vision is to create a society in which the rights of all children are protected, and each child is given an equal opportunity to grow and become an active and autonomous citizen."
Penny Giovanovits, Olympiacos's One Team Manager, added: "We are so proud of that super girl 'R'! She managed to adjust to the new circumstances of her life very, very soon in the best way. When I first met her in June 2020 she was not at all excited about the idea of basketball. She also had the impression that friendship was something difficult to conquer and she was so pessimistic about her achievements, everything seemed really difficult. The good news came faster than expected and her bad thoughts belong to the past!
"Our continuous sessions proved to be very efficient, and now she has confessed that she loves basketball! The same feelings are shared about her new friends, her 'besties'. Now whatever she does, she knows she can succeed ,and we have created such a relationship that by saying only two words, we can understand the world. She feels secure that we are on her side and that the future belongs to her."
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.