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A sport event as a strong connection between nations

  Greece hosted the European basketball championship U20 this month, in which 16 teams from the whole Europe took part. Several countries were represented in the event such as Israel and Turkey and others which are in the center of the continent such as Germany and France. While we were walking we could see players and fans wandering the streets of Heraklio under the feeling of nonchalantly, having always a smile on their faces because of the extraordinary experience they gained from Crete.

  On our way to the stadium we were looking forward to attending that big event our country was hosting. The first game I attended was between Italy and Israel and what attracted my attention immediately was the appearance of so many Israeli fans in the stadium. Shortly after I watched a very nice game between two traditional basketball teams, Lithuania and Slovenia. That, created a strong appetite for more basketball, which could only be whetted by the last game of the night between Greece and Montenegro.

  That game was very delightful. Montenegro appeared very competitive and strived during the game, which made us acclaim their effort and as a result we applauded them for a while. However the big moment of the night occurred outside the changing rooms where I caught a glimpse of a Montenegro player who was disappointed of the game’s result and he started crying. At the same time Montenegro and Greek fans tried to encourage him and they surely congratulated him for his performance. That moment undoubtedly showcases the magnificence of sports.

After many games and qualifiers was the time for the big final between Greece who hosted the tournament and the outsider team of Israel. Greeks made a fantastic atmosphere an hour before the game with the contribution of both younger and older people and the most spirited put a nice rhythm in the game with their drums and were asking for further contribution from the other fans who had to correspond to their songs. Fans played absolutely an important role to the game’s progress and the Greek national team became the European champion.

A few minutes before the game ended the score was 65-56 and the impatience for the last whistle was clear. A big party followed for the Greeks under the rhythm of the legendary Greek song “Zorbas”. At that point I observed an Israeli player reacting to some inappropriate gesture from few irresponsible fans. Nonetheless, the spirit of the sport was honored one more time as the same player turned to the rest of the fans and clapped moral support. Besides, as it has been mentioned by Pierre de Coubertin the real value is the participation, not the win.

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Finally, in a moment of complete selflessness, the Greek captain Vassilis Charalampopoulos called Dimitris Karvelas who is facing serious healthy problems to raise the trophy with him. I was overwhelmed with experiences and significant moments and there I realized that we humans can work together for a better future. And sports do that. They bring together rather than divide.