London Lions & Safe Haven Basketball Launch OneTeam Programme

Life’s persistent and most urgent question is,
What are you doing for others?

Dr Martin Luther King

Basketball is a famously kinetic sport well-known for creating connections and cohesion amongst the communities in which it resides. 

Together, players, coaches and fans alike work to build bonds that go beyond the hardwood and long-lasting wins that go beyond the boxscore. These principles are precisely what Euroleague Basketball’s OneTeam initiative is built upon. OneTeam is the Euroleague Basketball Social Responsibility programme that uses basketball to achieve social impact in communities.

London Lions recently established its debut OneTeam programme in collaboration with Safe Haven Basketball on Saturday, 21st of January. Safe Haven is an organisation launched by Emma Colverd to work with young people aged 14-24 with Special Educational Needs (SEN). 

The two-time ActiveWestminster Awards nominated organisation has previously engaged with over 10,000 disabled young people and helped to up-skill over 800 new disability-inclusive coaches and volunteers.

The London Lions’ and Safe Haven Basketball collaborative project aims to enable young people to become active through basketball as they look to engage, learn life skills that will help them in their daily lives and meet new people.

During the launch clinic, Safe Haven Basketball founder Emma Colverd discussed what the participants have been able to gain from the day’s session:

“Self-confidence! [Today] has been all about gaining something positive from the experience. Making shots or missing the hoop isn’t important as long as [they’re] still trying and having fun. Today is about doing something fun and making them feel part of something bigger. A part of the world.”
“It gives them joy in life. It gives them so much joy and pride in themselves.”

The OneTeam launch clinic was led by Lions Head Coach Ryan Schmidt (at the Copper Box Arena) and supported by the whole coaching staff and playing roster, including initiative Ambassadors Aaron Best and Tomislav Zubcic

“It was a great day. A great experience and a great group of young people. We all enjoyed ourselves and gathered around the game we all love, and it was fun. At the base level, it’s about giving back to the community, the people here today. That’s the core of it. But at the end of the day, we all had fun. That was one of the biggest takeaways.”

- OneTeam Ambassador & London Lions Guard, Aaron Best.
“Being around the Safe Haven players was an amazing feeling to help and teach them. And [The London Lions players] were in the process of learning but also glad to help and be a part of the community. We all share the same love for basketball… and you can we everybody here today enjoying being taught and enjoyed teaching. This whole experience has been something else.”

OneTeam Ambassador & London Lions Forward, Tomislav "Zuba" Zubcic.

The session included several basketball exercises, games and activities that all participants (and Lions’ players) participated in and ended with group pictures and MVP presentations. 

Emma Wilson, a parent of one of the participants, discussed the experience her son had at the clinic:

“It’s an amazing experience for him. The sessions help to build his confidence. [This clinic] makes my son feel appreciated and aware of himself. For the London Lions to participate and help build that confidence… that’s a big thing! It’s a very emotional thing.”

Emma Wilson then spoke about the lasting effects the clinics have on her son:

“Accomplished! He feels accomplished being here today. Being with his team, he has done something that he loves. It’s like he has been given a boost. [This clinic] has helped with his social communication. How to communicate with his team. How to communicate with others… this clinic makes him feel good and makes him feel worthy.”

Building connections with communities is beneficial for all parties involved. Josephine Maignomo, one of the experienced volunteer coaches, opened up about what drew her to work with Safe Haven Basketball founder Emma Colverd and the organisation: 

“If it weren’t for the teachers and coaches that supported me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I, myself, suffer from [a learning disability].”

Josephine Maignomo discussed what she, as an individual, gained from the clinics:

“One thing I have gained from these clinics is patience, but I’ve also learnt that anyone can do anything. There is no limit.” 

The Safe Haven Basketball coach also spoke about what she believes will be some of the lasting effects of the OneTeam programme:

“Confidence. Everyone is human. Everyone likes to feel wanted and part of a team. [The participants] never turn down any challenges. I’ve seen so much growth. They’ve gained a lot more self-confidence.” 

Weekly sessions will take place in Lambeth, South London and are led by members of the London Lions' community coaching staff and experienced volunteers from Safe Haven Basketball. The Black Prince Trust also supports the program.

The session’s participants will join the Lions on Wednesday 22nd, March to participate in pre-and half-time activities when London welcomes EuroCup rivals Turk Telekom for the #WeAreAllOneTeam round of EuroCup fixtures. 

Aaron Best and Tomislav Zubcic will visit Safe Haven Basketball sessions in Islington, Lambeth and Hackney as part of their Ambassador commitments. 

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Muhammad Ali


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