One Team is a global project in the context of which each club participating in the Euroleague and Eurocup organizes its own program. The program aims to socialize children with disabilities through basketball.
Loko joined One Team program since 2014/15 season. The ambassadors of the project in the 2019/20 season were Dmitry Kulagin and Alan Williams.
In the 2019/20 season Loko managed to conduct 16 workouts for 16 children with Down syndrome from the kids of the charity Deti Luchiki. The workouts were actively attended by players, coaches, doctors of the main and youth teams, mascot Zubastik, and a dance team Loks Dancers.
We look how it all began! In the first workouts coaches Vladimir and Natalya Krotova worked with children, as well as Dayana Bednarik, coordinator of the One Team project.
Each lesson was a fascinating adventure for children and radically different from the previous one. For example, one of them was devoted to the development of special physical qualities. Together with the Loko youth players Artem Ovchinnikov and Mussa Kipkeev the children played outdoor games and learned how to handle the ball.
The next lesson could already take place in the most entertaining atmosphere in the rhythm of the dance with the help of the best dance team of VTB United League “Loks Dancers”!
Children participated in matches as spectators, and also showed their skills on the floor in the framework of One Team Games. This season this event fell on the Eurocup home game, where Loko hosted Partizan Belgrade . One Team members took part in the announcement of the line-ups, a symbolic kick-off, and held a small relay in a half time.
For this match all players, referees and arena staff came out in shoes with special branded shoelaces #WeAreAllOneTeam to support the Euroleague flashmob and to draw public attention to the importance of the project for all European basketball clubs.
In addition to communicating with athletes in matches One Team members met with their idols in training. At one of these workouts guard of Loko and the Russian National team Dmitry Kulagin conducted training with the children.
Before the New Year the lesson was held with the club mascot Zubastik, a sweet table and gifts. The lesson was aimed at associating the training with the holiday and good mood among the children, as well as encouraging them for well-conducted 10 sessions.
All special kids are unique. Each story deserves great respect and kind words. Today we will tell you about Fedor Suslov, for whom the past season 2019/20 was already the second in the One Team program!
While participating in his first One Team program in the 2018/19 season Fedya was a very shy and silent kid. Out of the comfort zone and the absence of parents on the court could not help him find himself in the circle of children. The exercises were difficult, there was no mood. Although he did not want to leave the program! Fedya could not find that light inside him that would reveal him. Despite everything, thanks to hard training and the help of coaches, Fedya decided to take part in the One Team program of the 2019/20 season. And he became not only one of the most active guys, but also the most sociable participant in the program! In addition, he maximally practiced with the ball and significantly increased his basketball level!
Fedya’s mother Natalya Suslova talked about her son’s overcoming fear of communicating with people thanks to the One Team program, about Fedya’s bright memories and his basketball dreams!
- Tell us about the One Team program? What skills did your son acquire during his workouts?
- One Team is our chance to get closer to basketball. Fedya is very fond of sports, especially basketball, but no matter what section we go to, he is not taken anywhere. Due to the nature of development, due to growth, the reasons for failure were different, but I understood that there was only one true reason - his diagnosis. One Team is a project that helped realize his son’s dream of playing basketball! He could never be so open to communication as in the One Team sessions. Now Fedya understands what it means to work in a team and do something together with others. He learned the basics of basketball: he dribbles with confidence, willingly gives up the pass and already often gets into the basket. He also learned to distinguish between time and days of the week in order to count days and hours before trainings.
- What positive changes have occurred with Fedya?
- Fedya overcame his main fear - the fear of communicating with people and is no longer afraid to look people in the eye. After the first program it became much easier for him to be in a room where there are a lot of people and ride in public transport.
- The most bright memories?
- Emotions overwhelmed my son throughout the program. The most striking and memorable events were: entering the arena during the match and workouts with the players. Fedya's vocabulary is very replenished. During this short time, he began to speak much more than for all the years of school. Of course, the main words were words - Loko, game, match, basketball, Dayana, Vladimir and Natasha.
- How has the program affected your family?
- In the life of our family there have been changes only for the better. We have all become calmer. There was a feeling of celebration in those days when there were training. All dinners on such days were held in a lively discussion of the training and achievements of the son. It seems to me that we have become friendlier and happier. After all, when a child is happy - the whole family automatically becomes happy!
- Perhaps the topics that were raised in the classroom led him to achievements in other areas?
- Fedya began to read more. He is interested in learning more about the players, about basketball. It all started with the usual banners, and now he is happy to read articles on the web. Actively engaged in physical education, says that the basketball player must be in shape! Previously, we could not force him, but now he does it himself and with joy.
- Does Fedya have any basketball dreams?
- Fedya have only one dream - that training does not end! He dreams of playing basketball, unfortunately, without One Team this dream cannot be fulfilled, since he is not accepted into the sports sections...I would like to wish this program so that it never ceases to exist. After all, there are many more such boys as Fedya who dream of basketball, but who do not have the opportunity to do it in the regular section. I really want to be in this program always, because One Team has become a large and significant part of our family’s life. When I see how my son’s eyes are burning, what enormous changes are happening in all areas of his life, I see that not only Fedya's dream comes true (to be a basketball player), but mine is to see how my son is changing and becoming happy. Thank you so much, for what you are! I really hope that we will definitely meet again and our new training will take place, because without you, our life will not be overgrown with new bright emotions and my son’s dream will remain just a dream.
In the last workout of the 2019/20 season Loko big man Alan Williams gave a throwing training with the guys. Alan received a huge amount of positive emotions and conveyed all his love to the One Team kids!
Unfortunately, COVID-19 pandemic did not allow for all 20 lessons of the project, but the emotions that the guys received during the year, as well as the efforts of all employees, ambassadors and the guys themselves, are worth it to say with confidence – the world has become a little kinder.
The results of the season were commented by One Team Project Coordinator Dayana Bednarik.
Thanks to all the people who participated in the One Team program in the 2019/20 season. Great respect for the charity organization “Deti-luchiki”, as well as all the children and their families. Thanks to the Euroleague for the opportunity to help children and take part in this wonderful project. We are very grateful for the collaboration with the fitness center AVAX FIT & SPA, in the cozy room of which a part of the program was held. Special thanks to the Administration of Krasnodar Region for their support in organizing workouts!
Loko family, remember that the world is losing its luster without kindness. Together we will make this planet better. One Team program does not say goodbye, we see you in the next season!
At the end of this article we look at important message from One Team’s ambassador Alan Williams and participants of the project! Stay home, stay safe, keep practicing!