The story of Manuel Lopez is not your usual one. He was born in Valencia in a dysfunctional family that lacked proper resources. On top of that, he was born with a leg 2 centimeters shorter than the other and he also missed a finger on one of his hands. These physical disabilities marked him and his integration within his environment.
In order to make up for his problems, Manuel had to wear a device to help him walk normally, but despite that fact, he always seeked an escape in sports. Enter Valencia Basket, Asociacion Periferia and One Team. Thanks to the joint programme they offer, Manuel was able to join in for 10 basketball sessions. At first, he was shy and quiet, but little by little he felt accepted in the group thanks to his will to learn and was soon one more in the team.
"I played despite having to wear the device" Manuel said. "Doctors told me I had to rest, but I always kept playing. I have a lot of fun and I like to spend time with my friends... and I learn a lot."
Since his participation in the programme, Manuel has been able to improve his relationship with his parents and has also gained a lot of self-confidence that he was lacking before the sessions. During the ten meet-ups, Manuel started acting in a more open way with his peers and at times even forgot about his disabilities due to being engaged in the activities.
Valencia Basket has developed their One Team Programme jointly with Global Network for Rights and Development in order to help users of the Asociacion Periferia, an organisation that works as a day centre for children and youth at risk of social exclusion in the Na Rovella neighbourhood in Valencia. These minors have educational support and are monitored on an individual and personalised basis due to their family situation.
Now having finished its fifth year, One Team was created by Euroleague Basketball to use the power of basketball as a tool to integrate at-risk communities in 14 countries through grass-roots activities that have reached more than 10,000 participants to date thanks to the help of One Team Founding Patron Turkish Airlines.