One Team, Euroleague Basketball’s social responsibility program, is proud to support International Volunteer Day, which is being celebrated on Sunday, December 5.
Volunteers are a central part of the One Team program, playing a key role in strengthening the work of our clubs and their social partners to improve the lives of vulnerable people in our communities. One of the hundreds of examples from around the continent is Christie, a volunteer with Olympiacos Piraeus’s One Team program. This is her story.
“Being a long-time fan of Olympiacos, I was always keeping up with their news on and off the court, such as CSR projects. What inspired me about the One Team program was the fact that it included organisations supporting vulnerable teenagers, together with schools, offering learning opportunities to a range of beneficiaries. This reason, together with my studies and work experience in mental health, led me to approach [Olympiacos Piraeus One Team Manager] Penny Giovanovits to participate in her program. She was really welcoming and helpful from the first moment I got there.
“For me, being a volunteer is a lifelong mentality and way of living, and I have been assisting various organisations in Greece and the UK throughout the years. These include Alma Zois, an organisation supporting women with cancer in Greece, Diabetes UK, King's College Hospital, UN volunteers online, mental health telephone support for Covid-19 and Race for the Cure UK. I find great value in helping others and giving back to the community.
“Being a member of the Olympiacos One Team family has been and still is a priceless experience. The interaction with the children, their anticipation about the session, their laugher and their smiles of accomplishment are all invaluable rewards. These kept us going during the challenging times of lockdown in Greece when we had to be quite inventive and creative in order to accommodate the sessions. We had to change locations, times, days of training, even at the last minute, but we were all really determined that we would keep the sessions going, no matter what.
“I still remember Christina, a girl from the school, approaching me and asking me: ‘When the lockdown is over, can we go to watch an Olympiacos game together?’ I gladly accepted. Her next question was ‘Will the lockdown be over?’ And I nodded yes, telling her that this is only a temporary situation. We could feel the children’s anxiety about the pandemic and we tried to assist them, not only with basketball but also with our presence, giving them hope for the future.
“My role as a One Team Volunteer last season included participation in training sessions, with a view to contributing to mental health subjects such as emotions, communication, dealing with frustration or stress due to the pandemic and motivation. I was also assisting in training preparation, on how to include mental health toolkits for the children.
“My current role for Olympiacos is dual. I am responsible for mental performance coaching and support the Olympiacos Academy for children aged 13 to 17. We run weekly workshops with a range of subjects on mental preparation, coping skills, motivation, stress and time management etc. The workshops will run throughout the season, offering student-athletes the tools they need to thrive and develop in a holistic manner, physically and mentally.
“I also continue to assist the One Team program as a mental health professional, aiming to create educational material for parents and children. Penny and I are working on podcasts with useful information on mental health issues, which we will then share on social platforms.
“I am really glad to have joined the One Team program and am really proud of last year’s achievements, not only with the children, but also with the Gold Award we received from Euroleague Basketball in the annual One Team Awards.”