Zalgiris community taking involvement in One Team program 0

Social responsibility projects have the greatest impact when as big of a part of the society joins in for a common goal. In the One Team program, organized by Zalgiris and the EuroLeague, the green-and-whites dove head-first into the activities together with the club’s partners and fans.

One Team participants take on challenge with club partners

The point of the program is to gradually and systematically work through basketball with the less-opportune segments of the community. The green-and-whites joined forces with Special Olympics Lithuania and entered a 12-week program of activities that had the participants working on their communication, teamwork, instill values and knowledge that will help the youngsters in the future.

In one of the final meetings, the participants had a chance to showcase what they had learned during the activities, presenting and hosting their favorite games to a crowd of guests – Zalgiris partners and the team’s One Team efforts supporters Ramirent Lietuva, alongside representatives from Vilkyskiu Pienine, the city municipality and members of the Zalgiris organization itself.

“While this was supposed to be a challenge for the youngsters, but it seems that the One Team activities strengthened their self-belief so much, that we didn’t even notice any nervousness. Perhaps it was even us feeling more nervous than them. Having had constant visits to Zalgirio Arena for the last couple months, they felt like at home here, whereas we were more of guests. In these meetings you can clearly see the positive impact Zalgiris has on these participants, and it’s really good to feel a part of it,” – noted Eligijus Baikauskas, a representative of Ramirent Lietuva, who’ve been supporting the project for the past five years.

A record input from Zalgiris fans during One Team week

The EuroLeague suggested marking the One Team week differently this year, inviting the communities of all of the league’s clubs to the One Team walking challenge. Throughout the 8-11 of February, they encouraged fans from all over Europe to walk for their teams.

Zalgiris fans shined here, as a record number of over 1700 people registered, becoming the largest community in this challenge and representing nearly half of all of the participants. Together they took almost 40 million steps, which translates to roughly 28 thousand kilometers, or in other words – nearly 70% of the way across the globe.

“I always walk a lot, usually 20 thousand steps a day, sometimes more. I walk a lot at work, I like taking a stroll in the evening, too. I’ve walked Kaunas from each end to the other. I’m happy they’re encouraging people to walk more – that ensures your good health,” – said the most active of the participants, Tadas.

Diplomas from the hands of green-and-whites

Traditionally, the final meeting of One Team’s first group was capped with a meeting with Zalgiris players, the programs ambassadors. This year, Marek Blazevic and Niels Giffey were the ones to undertake the role, participating in games and handing out diplomas.

“It’s always most fun to meet the players, to receive a diploma, take a photo. I had my dream come true here, as I met my favorite player Mantas Kalnietis in the arena, I got his signature. I’ll remember this day for a long time,” – shared his excitement on of the program participants Pijus.

Nevertheless, while live meetings give much more value, the pandemic has brought additional challenges. Only vaccinated people can participate in the activities, with the hall being aired out and disinfected. The same utilities aren’t used as the team, while meetings with the players undergo even more scrutiny – during the entire meeting – even while doing sports – respirators are worn and a safe distance is maintained.

The effectiveness of the safety precautions is proved by the fact that there was no COVID-19 outbreaks during the meetings.