Zalgiris among finalists for One Team Program Awards 0

Euroleague Basketball celebrates the great work its clubs have accomplished in their communities across the continent and beyond during the 2017-18 season with the announcement of the nominees for the Best One Team Program Awards.

This season marks the second consecutive year in which the top One Team programs conducted by Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup clubs will be honored. This time, thanks to the unprecedented growth in both the quantity and quality of the programs, Euroleague Basketball will issue three such awards: One Team Gold Program, One Team Silver Program and One Team Bronze Program.

Accordingly, six participating teams – one more than last year – have been shortlisted as finalists for the awards. They are Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem, Lietkabelis Panevezys, Olympiacos Piraeus, Unicaja Malaga, and the winner of the last year’s inaugural award, Zalgiris Kaunas.

“Every player, coach, manager or volunteer who has participated in one of the more than 40 different One Team projects this season has our gratitude,” Abigail Martin, Director of Euroleague Basketball’s CSR & Development Projects, said. “They all deserve awards. Absolutely all programs had some brilliant and special moments but, of course, there were some of them that were a little more creative and that had a little bit more reach or impact on their participants. The aim of the Best One Team Program Awards is to salute those teams. And with so many of them, the best solution is to issue three awards.”

The winners will be announced during the eighth One Team Annual Workshop in September in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The clubs’ programs will be assessed following the basic One Team criteria that include program planning and delivery, ambassadors’ involvement, marketing and communications activities, and commercial partners’ collaboration. thinkBeyond will again be involved in the judging process.

Below are the six finalists and details about their 2017-18 programs.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul was among the finalists last year and continued to do a great job this season with a new partner, thus allowing the benefits of One Team to reach multiple communities. The 2017-18 program was tailored to the specific needs of a narrow age group, using basketball to give a sense of purpose and direction to 14- and 15-year-olds, an extremely impressionable age where goal-setting is more important than ever. The Efes program also stood out for its excellent reports on social media and through its engagement of volunteers – including two people from their public relations agency who brought not only time but useful skills to the program.

Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem initially set out to run two programs. Although one of those was not completed due to attendance challenges, it is clear that there was a great deal of planning that went into making sure the programs would be properly designed for those that they were hoping to help: commitment, personal responsibility and self-discipline for immigrants; and leadership and confidence for girls. Jerusalem also impressed the judges for its integration of its club partner into the One Team program and for bringing One Team into club activities such as the club’s holiday camp.

Lietkabelis Panevezys joined the One Team program for the first time this season and got off to a great start. They began planning the program shortly after the One Team Annual Workshop and had everything in place to start at the beginning of the year, alongside their chosen partner, a foster home for abandoned children. Lietkabelis met all One Team basic requirements and showed excellent initiative and motivation in involving the entire team and technical staff. The Lietkabelis Change Story demonstrated the power of One Team with one of the participants now able to communicate better and deal with bullying problems that he was facing while finding work at a church and expressing a desire to become a volunteer for the club.

Olympiacos Piraeus demonstrated a fantastic year-round program that acknowledged the great concern among parents with a disabled person in their family: their inclusion in autonomous living. Olympiacos used sport to address that concern effectively. The team made specific efforts to include their sponsors in the program and, following the 2017 One Team Annual Workshop, felt inspired to put lots of time and effort into communication about the program. That paid off when the program was featured on a popular Greek TV channel. The Olympiacos Change Story was wonderful, with one participant showing a reduction in self-harm and an ability to communicate better with others, even when they were only halfway through the program. The other element of the program that impressed the judges was how much the Olympiacos One Team Ambassadors were involved, with two players attending multiple sessions and participating in communications activities such as videos and social media.

Unicaja Malaga has a deep, long-term relationship with its partner, Proyecto Hombre. Working together for the fifth year together, the club and charity use their combined expertise to improve the lives of those in rehabilitation and recovery from drug and other addictions. One impressive feature of the program is the way that Unicaja involves friends and family members of the participants, who are essential for support in recovery. Unicaja used basketball to develop key life skills to an existing program in the city with many influential partners involved, including the City of Malaga. In this program, Unicaja made a fantastic addition to the basic One Team measurement and evaluation requirements, choosing two participants and tracking their progress each week.

Zalgiris Kaunas was last year’s winner of the Best New Program Award and has continued to show great leadership through their One Team program. Working with the Kaunas Probation Service, Zalgiris used One Team to change the environment where boys usually spend their time – engaging in disruptive activities. Using carefully tailored drills that are particularly relevant to an overall goal of developing the boys’ aspirations, Zalgiris helps with the development of key skills while contributing to the shortening of their sentenced time through engaging in positive activities. Despite significant challenges of getting the boys engaged in the program, the Change Story that Zalgiris presented showed that when an individual chooses to make the most of the opportunities presented, he can change his life. This year Zalgiris brought a sponsor to their program and has involved a wide variety of individuals and groups who can help the participants develop their aspirations – including a wheelchair team, university students, an American football player, a football player and, of course, One Team Ambassadors from the club. Zalgiris also used their experience and expertise to help a group from Kaunas Juvenile prison.

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 14,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.