“Out of my window, I could see young children, abandoned, involved with drugs and misery. I started wondering how I could help them. At first, it was a group of teenagers. I approached them and asked them to play basketball. I sat down to listen to the children; I accepted them just as they are. I shared their home, the square, the playing field. Through sports and basketball championships, their positive elements came out. When someone is as desperate as they are, what can you say? That Christ saves? They could not care less” says Father Antonios Papanikolaou.
The beginnings of the Ark are interwoven with sports, especially basketball. Father Antonios used basketball as a means to approach the children, since he played basketball when he was young. Children needed to belong somewhere, since most of them were forced by life to live neglected, without any purpose and meaning in life. When they joined the team, they had a purpose, to fight for victory. This is how Father Antonios got to know the children and was given the opportunity to open up their horizons, give meaning to their lives and show them the other side of life, the side of hope, love, patience, care and dignity. Besides, basketball is a sport of dignity, since there is no tie and they all struggle to win, without feeling sorry for anyone. Because if you feel sorry for someone without help them live with dignity, you victimize them.
Therefore, the Ark of the World has been teaching dignity to the children all these years also through basketball. Father Antonios always spares some of his valuable time to play with the children and give them advice through it. Thanks to his actions, he managed to decrease crime in the area up to 40%.
In the past few years, the basketball team was organised with the help of Theodoros Papaloukas, the victorious Olympiakos, CSKA Moscow and our national team basketball player, and his brother Kostas, with organised practice. Through this effort, children tried to evolve from a group of friends to a team, learn about cooperation, patience, fair play, trust and mutual help.
Thus, the time came to establish the Ark of the World Basketball Sports Club in June 2016, which takes part in the local championship of the Basketball Clubs Association of Attica, at the 4th group of the 4th category.
Mr. Filippos Sotiropoulos, experienced coach in national and amateur categories, assumed the role of coach. The team’s players include the first children of the Ark, children accommodated or supported by the Ark and young people who joined the team when they learned about its establishment.
We started organising the youngest sections, always with the help of Papaloukas brothers, to take part in the championships in the 2017-2018 season.
In addition to the sports aspect, our goal is to introduce a new mentality in the playing field and the bleachers, the mentality of dignity, respect and selflessness, and foster the spirit of games as a spirit of feast and love, not of violence and hate.
Moreover, through the team and our contacts with the other teams, we can help people and families in the regions of the teams out of the social programmes of the Ark of the World.