Valencia Basket players Joan Sastre and Alberto Abalde visited Colegio Maria Auxiliadora on Friday to address some motivational words to the school's Copa Colegial team in front of all other students. The event was part of an ongoing series of High School Experiences, coordinated with the Fundacion Baloncesto Colegial, that are being held around Spain to promote basketball participation among young people.
The FBC enjoys the support of Euroleague Basketball in a five-year partnership as part of the EuroLeague Academy brand, under which school tournaments and other grassroots programs are developed. Now in its 12th edition, the Copa Colegial is a competition that aims to increase the importance and presence of basketball among students. It offers young people the unique experience of representing their schools on the court and bonding through basketball with fellow students throughout the country.
At Friday's presentation, Sastre and Abalde spoke to a schoolyard full of students about the motivation for participating in sports and playing for their school. Sastre and Abalde also related their own experiences playing school basketball and their most treasured memories. The school's director of studies, Cristina Lorente, spoke to the students, as well, to make them realize that fan support will be an important factor during the Copa Colegial games.
Sastre and Abalde then directed a small practice with the team, which was divided into two groups. In a final challenge, they encouraged the school's players to see who wanted to score a last-second, game-winning shot.
Sastre, who is also the One Team Ambassador of Valencia, supporting the Euroleague Basketball social responsibility program there, spoke about how hard work started early can take you far.
"Effort from the start carries you to accomplish things," Sastre said. "Now, I am lucky to have arrived here and to be able to see these young people enjoying school basketball."
Abalde, one of the most exciting young players in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague right now, recalled his own friends speaking highly of Copa Colegial.
"Everything begins here, in school, playing with your friends," Abalde said. "I didn't have the opportunity to play the Copa Colegial, but my friends always said that it's a unique experience playing with your school friends, and it's a great way to cultivate sports."
In the newest edition, the Copa Colegial – or, collegiate cup – will be played by 200 schools across nine of Spain's biggest cities – Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Valencia, Vitoria, Malaga, A Coruña and Valladolid – including all five that have teams in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.