Late last year, with most of the globe still facing the COVID-19 pandemic, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia developed a digital hub combining online and in-person activities to celebrate European Basketball Week 2021—Faces of Basketball. The website gathered training videos, events, profile cards and news stories on a unique platform to provide a hybrid online-offline experience of European Basketball Week 2021.
The formula has proven incredibly successful. The website performance, with more than 37,000 page views during Basketball Week and a total of 156 events in the region registered on the platform, is one of the best campaign performances registered by the region. More than 16,000 athletes and friends of the movement visited and interacted with the website while 520 individual player profile cards were created. Additionally, more than 7 million people saw Faces of Basketball on social media.
With International Day of Persons with Disabilities falling right in the middle of last year’s European Basketball Week, many friends of the movement showed their support such as Special Olympics Global Ambassador and NBA player, Ricky Rubio. Basketball clubs such as KK Crvena Zvezda mts, Panathinaikos BC, Reyer Venezia and Olimpia Milano used their social media to give our athletes the visibility they deserve and promote social inclusion. Olimpia Milano even welcomed a lucky athlete and coach to join them in their activities for two days and invited them to their match against Olimpiakos in the Euroleague tournament.
The campaign also caught the attention of international media. Overall, a massive 410 million people were reached by the campaign, which was featured in more than 70 pieces of coverage. Outlets like ESPN, BBC World Service and BBC Sports featured the campaign and highlighted the challenging situation of people with intellectual disabilities during the pandemic.
“I think Faces of Basketball is a brilliant idea and a great opportunity for the world of sport and for all the athletes of Special Olympics. It gives us relevance and allows us to showcase what we do in a more specific way, even if it’s only for a week! I really appreciate the opportunity this platform gives me: such visibility was never offered to me before.”
With the support of Lions Clubs International Foundation and Toyota, and the incredible work of athletes and coaches taking the lead on online training, Faces of Basketball’s resounding success is a another step towards the digitization of the Special Olympics movement!