A group of students has received lessons in leadership from basketball icon David Rivers thanks to Tofas Bursa's first season working with One Team, Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program.
Rivers became European champion with Olympiacos in 1997 and later had a successful playing spell with Tofas, winning two Turkish League titles.
He is now supporting the 7DAYS EuroCup club as One Team Ambassador along with Caner Topaloglu, leading basketball clinics for disadvantaged local young people through the New Generation program, in which Tofas focuses on creating equal opportunities and enabling to access sports.
At a two-day event last week, Rivers was joined by senior team members Sammy Mejia, Josh Owens and Baris Ermis, who all participated in the training sessions and shared their experiences with the young people at the Mustafa V Koc Sports Arena.
Under the umbrella of One Team, the New Generation program introduces a training approach and practice model that brings coaches, parents and children together with the purpose of raising a generation with an authentic sports culture.
During the first day of last weekend's training sessions, Rivers initially met with the coaches and asked them to always provide the students with guidance and assistance for the obstacles they were going to face, and to empower them for creating solutions.
The first session was focused on leadership, with Mejia – the current captain of Tofas – taking part in a question-and-answer session. "We tried to inspire and encourage them to chase their dreams, help one another and be confident about who they are," Mejia said afterward.
For the second session, Rivers and Owens delivered a hands-on practice based on making hard decisions and solving problems, during which the young players were faced with obstacles such as having to reach their goals while their eyes were closed.
During the last part of the program, Turkish international Ermis was the guest and he encouraged the students to follow their dreams, saying: "There are always going to be obstacles in your way throughout your life. Do not give up on your dreams and work as hard as you can to achieve your goals."
The club will continue to deliver positive and empowering messages with weekly sessions during its first season of involvement with One Team, working specifically with economically disadvantaged families and communities.
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.