Khimki Moscow Region gave birth to the newest One Team project this week, One Team Khimki. Though the Russian basketball club competes in the Eurocup this season, it has embraced the values of Euroleague Basketball's corporate social responsibility programme and embarked on its own project.
Khimki launched the first event at Khimki Arena this past Sunday. With the help of Mosoblgaz company, the club's long-standing partner in community projects, Khimki brought together 600 people to support the children's charity Lada. The event centered around a streetball tournament. Most of the attendees were children from various social institutions in Moscow and Moscow Region, who took part in a celebration of sport both as competitive participants and guests. The event also drew some 70 volunteers!
One Team, supported by Turkish Airlines, was launched in February 2012 to form an umbrella under which Euroleague Basketball and its clubs use the power of basketball to integrate communities through sport and social development initiatives. One Team is becoming an increasingly well-respected blue riband sports and social development program thanks to the participation of clubs like Khimki Moscow Region.
Khimki has a long history of working in the community to raise awareness of the advantages of living an active and healthy lifestyle, particularly among youth. One Team Khimki is an extension of that. The new project aims to achieve social cohesion by uniting communities around the club and helping people be seen and heard by each other.
"Our club has an active social position. We invite children from different sport organizations in Moscow Region to every home game to make them feel part of our family," Khimki forward James Augustine said at the launch event. "I'm sure that our sport festival will give the kids the motivation to take up healthy lifestyle and, of course, give them some really great memories.
"I'm grateful to be at the One Team Khimki launch event. It is so important to let the kids feel they are a part of something great, important and fun! It is a way to increase their self-esteem, one of the values that One Team looks after through its methodology. There are so many things happening here today. I've had a chance to take part in the voting for the best drawing in the art competition among kids from the local social institutions. There is a great vibe here today. I hope, everyone is happy to be here."
At the event, eight local institutions competed in the streetball tournament, where they were greeted by One Team Khimki ambassador Vitaly Nosov. Khimki Moscow Region's top junior players entertained the children with a dunking exhibition. Each participating team received prizes including Spalding basketballs from the official Spalding dealer in Russia, Eagle Sports Ltd, as well as basketball uniforms, backboards, rims, ice skates, table tennis tables and equipment from the organizers and partners. The winning team was rewarded with a trip to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi!
In addition to the streetball action, the halls of the arena were filled with exhibitions to introduce children to a range of sports, including table tennis, wrestling, darts, chess and hockey. Volunteers from the relevant sport federations conducted the sessions. The festival also marked the end of a month-long art competition, in which Augustine voted, for special needs children from Khimki social institutions. Sponsors provided free food and treats for the participants and volunteers throughout the event.
"I think the children were especially impressed to see the famous athletes who came to greet them and to wish them good luck, as well as the dunking show from the youth team players," One Team Khimki volunteer Evgenya Evgrafova said. "I believe it will be a huge motivation for the [children] to keep training, develop their skills, and follow their dreams. Events and communication of this kind are absolutely necessary for the children to help them find their way in life. Thanks to Lada and Basketball Club Khimki for organizing the festival.
"As for the kids… They melted our hearts with their enthusiasm, teamwork and will power. They gave us, the adults, a lesson – to never give up, even if there is little hope for victory, for as the tournament showed, it is always worth it."