The Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Worcester delivered a moving and passionate speech at the 100th anniversary of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation.
Professor David Green CBE DL was the only university head to be invited to speak alongside leading figures from the world of basketball, at the event in Kaunas. Two former Presidents of Lithuania were also at the event, including 96-year-old Valdas Adamkas, who distributed an anti-Nazi newspaper when a boy at School (during WWII) and who is highly revered in Lithuania, as well as the current President.
Professor Green was invited to speak in recognition of the University’s work to use basketball as a way to enhance children’s numeracy and literacy, as well as engagement in sport, through a number of initiatives. The University also has an on-going partnership with two Lithuanian universities – Vilnius and the Lithuanian Sports University. Professor Green was also welcomed by Mindaugas Balciunas, who is an Honorary Professor at Worcester, as well as being Secretary General of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation.
Speaking at the 100th anniversary celebrations, Professor Green said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be here in Kaunas to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Federation of Lithuanian Basketball. Just 15 years after the Federation’s Foundation, all of Lithuania celebrated the Country’s victory in May 1937, when they won gold in the Men’s European Basketball Championship. Two years later Lithuania won gold again, this time here in Kaunas. Then came the Nazi invasion, the horrors of war, the Holocaust and the Soviet occupation.”
Professor Green highlighted the importance of basketball in Lithuania’s identity. “The sport is inextricably linked to national independence and to the identity of Lithuania itself,” he said. “Lithuanian Basketball is an expression of the joy of sport and so much more. It is a powerful expression of freedom, of the modern world, of democracy.
Professor Green also took the opportunity to call on people to protest against the Russian regime’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
“This cruel, brutal invasion has unleashed the horrors of war on the innocent Ukrainian people,” he said. “The Ukrainian people are fighting bravely for their freedom and for their country, they fight too for the freedom of Europe and the world. Their cause is just. They must and will win. They need and deserve every support. That support can, must and will also come from the world of sport; from the world of Basketball. Just as every Lithuanian basketball medal is a medal for freedom, so too every Ukrainian medal at the Invictus games in the Netherlands last week is a medal for a free Ukraine and a medal for a free world.”