Olympic “Super Coaches” Transform Struggling Youth Teams in The Z Team only on the Olympic Channel


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Basketball’s Christian Laettner, Football’s Lauren and USA Rugby Coach Mike Friday Among Coaches Who Have One Week to Turn Around Teams in Docu-Reality Series

MADRID – Some of the most unaccomplished youth sports teams receive a helping hand from a game-changing coach and Olympic legend for whom losing is not an option in the inspirational docu-reality series, The Z Team. The all-new season of the Olympic Channel original series features Olympic legends from around the world who have just one week to turn around a struggling youth team.

The second season of The Z Team premieres worldwide on Tuesday, 5 March on olympicchannel.com, its mobile apps and on select connected TV devices.

In the first episode, Olympic gold medallist and “Dream Team” member, Duke University basketball legend and former NBA star Christian Laettner coaches the Garinger High School boys’ varsity basketball team in Charlotte, North Carolina. Drawing from his collegiate and 13-year NBA career, he uses his coaching skills and famous no-nonsense attitude to help the 3-14 team prepare for their next game.

“Happiness and joy on the court cannot come from winning only, it has to come from playing the game,” said Laettner. “I hope they take things from what we did on the basketball court to make them a little better. I want them to experience a certain level of success.”

Cameroon Olympic gold medallist and former Arsenal defender Lauren [Etamé-Meyer] spent a week coaching Haquenye FC, an amateur league team in East London, U.K. hoping to avoid relegation. The experience was nostalgic for the “invincible” who also knows what it feels like to be underrated.

“Everyone that loves football has a little manager inside of him…It reminds me when we won the Olympics,” said Lauren about Cameroon’s victory at the 2000 Sydney Games. “We were every time down in the final against Spain, and we reversed the situation. This is the Olympic Spirit: to never give up!”

USA Rugby Coach Mike Friday travelled to Mumbai, India for a week with a specific task at hand – to help India’s U17 women’s sevens team qualify for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.  

“The work effort will beat talent, and it certainly will carry you a long way,” said Friday, who is responsible for transforming the USA Eagles into the world’s top-ranked sevens team. “Being the underdog fuels me. I love that challenge. Making people better, making teams better, and allowing them to fulfil their potential.”

In addition to Laettner, Lauren and Friday, Olympic “super coaches” featured in the new season include Brazilian Olympic gold medallist in beach volleyball Jackie Silva, Dutch hockey star and three-time Olympic medallist Ellen Hoog, Finnish ice hockey legend and Olympic silver medallist Rexi Ruotsalainen, Russian rhythmic gymnast and Rio 2016 champion Margarita Mamun and French handball legend and two-time Olympic gold medallist Jerome Fernandez.

The second season of The Z Team was produced exclusively for the Olympic Channel by IMG, a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion.

In the popular first season of The Z Team, eight youth teams from around the world were transformed by guest “super coaches” including South African football legend Matthew Booth, Team Canada Olympic ice hockey hero Daniele Sauvageau, Team USA Olympic volleyball great Danielle Scott-Arruda, and Scotland Rugby Sevens star Colin Gregor.

Olympic Channel Episode Guide: The Z Team (Season 2)

Episode 1 – Can NBA and dream team star Christian Laettner teach this team to win?

Team USA, Duke University and NBA Legend, Christian Laettner, shows the Garinger High School Varsity basketball team in Charlotte, NC what he can do to help improve their form.

Episode 2 – Can Olympic and Arsenal legend Lauren save a football team from relegation? 

Cameroon and Arsenal football legend Lauren coaches struggling amateur league Haquenye FC in east London, U.K. Will he help them avoid relegation?

Episode 3 – Will Jackie Silva get this Brazilian volleyball team to defeat their rival? 

Brazilian Olympic Gold medallist, Jackie Silva, sends her expertise to a Rio Indoor Volleyball team as they try to win their first event ever.

Episode 4 – Can Dutch hockey star Ellen Hoog make a team who doesn’t score win?

Ellen Hoog, triple Olympic medallist, tries to restore winning ways to a U19 girls Hockey team, Ringpass Delft, in the Netherlands.

Episode 5 – Can US rugby coach Mike Friday transform India’s U17 female rugby team?

Team USA Coach, Mike Friday, travels to Mumbai to train the Indian U17 Rugby 7’s women’s side, aiming to qualify for the Youth Olympics.

Episode 6 – Can a Finnish Olympic ice hockey legend change this Chinese team’s fortune?

1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Silver Medalist, Rexi Ruotsalainen imparts his knowledge and expertise on the Huijia Green Dragons of Beijing.

Episode 7 – Can Russia’s top gymnast Margarita Mamun transform a young team in 1 week? 

Olympic Gold medalist Margarita Mamun tries hard to turn around the fortunes of Moscow’s Pirouette Gymnastics team. Is 1 week enough?

Episode 8 – Can France’s handball legend Jerome Fernandez make this U15 team win? 

Double Olympic Gold medalist Jerome Fernandez attempts to return success to Vitrolles’ U15 Handball team in South of France.

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About the Olympic Channel

The Olympic Channel is a multi-platform global media destination where fans can discover, engage and share in the power of sport and the excitement of the Olympic Games all year round. Offering original programming, news, live sports events and highlights, the Olympic Channel provides additional exposure for sports and athletes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in 11 languages. The Olympic Channel was launched in August 2016 in support of the IOC’s goal, set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, of providing a new way to engage younger generations, fans and new audiences with the Olympic Movement. Founding Partners supporting the Olympic Channel are Worldwide TOP Partners Bridgestone, Toyota and Alibaba. The Olympic Channel is available worldwide at olympicchannel.com mobile apps and on select connected TV devices.

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Editor’s Note

Subtitles are available in one of 11 languages by selecting the “CC” button found on the lower right of the episode videos. Subtitles are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.