For the last decade, Olympiacos Piraeus has helped those in the community thanks to its One Team program. As a way of celebrating the 10th year since the inception of the Reds' social responsibility program, an event was held to commemorate the occasion featuring this year's One Team participants, in addition to members of the current first-team squad, the club's social partners and also some players, organizers and volunteers that have contributed to the program in the last 10 years.
On the morning of Monday, December 19, the organizers of Olympiacos's One Team program set up a friendly game involving players from the Reds' first team and the One Team participants. Rather than focus on winning, the goal was to ensure that everyone enjoyed themselves and that there were as many smiles on view as possible, and both of these objectives were achieved. Olympiacos head coach Georgios Bartzokas was the referee for this friendly game, and he was happy to have participated in the event.
"This has been a much more pleasant experience than what I would have imagined," said Coach Bartzokas. "I had an idea about what was going on; I knew about the actions our team has undertaken with Kostas Papanikolaou and Sasha Vezenkov. I know how much they have worked with these kids for years now. So, I had an idea [about the program], but I could not have imagined the amount of joy this event would give us! The kids enjoyed themselves too, but they also gained strength. I feel very happy to have participated, even if it was just with a small role."
The fun didn't end there, though, as there were some Christmas surprises and the cutting of a cake to mark the 10th year of Olympiacos's One Team program. As you might expect, this also brought big smiles to the participants' faces!
"You learn about the meaning of unselfishness, of true love, about what a sincere hug means," explained Olympiacos team captain and One Team ambassador Kostas Papanikolaou. "Smiles that don't need any reciprocation to be offered; the only thing they need is for you to be there to play and share in their joy. It's a blessing and there are not enough words to describe it. Only someone who has experienced it and has had the opportunity to spend time with these kids can understand. I would suggest that everyone does something like this, 200%! The emotions you get to experience and the joy you derive are greater than the joy you give back to these kids."
Olympiacos starters Sasha Vezenkov and Thomas Walkup also expressed their joy at being involved in Monday's One Team celebration.