Count Me In
Garuda Flexi star guard Denny Sumargo knows what it’s like to live on the streets.
Growing up in Makassar, Denny, who has won the country’s top basketball league five times with his two previous clubs — Aspac and Satria Muda Britama — lived hand-to-mouth sleeping on porches and making ends meet as a conductor on South Sulawesi’s public transportation.
So when Count Me In, the corporate social responsibility unit of BeritaSatu Media Holdings, of which the Jakarta Globe is a part, contacted Denny and asked him to come and spend a few hours with Yudi and a few kids from Sahabat Anak, the 2001 Rookie of the Year jumped at the chance.
Sahabat Anak is a nonprofit organization that is concerned about the welfare of street children.
“When I was growing up, I used to watch my friends from the street huffing glue and dying,” said Denny, explaining why it was important to him to come and surprise Yudi and other street kids from Sahabat Anak.
A few weeks ago, Yudi, who attends a weekly tutorial class taught by volunteers from Sahabat Anak, told his teachers that he wanted to grow up to be a professional basketball player. The 13-year-old said Denny was his basketball hero, so the volunteers started to get in touch with the 30-year-old player.
Two weeks later, Denny arrived at the Tomang Sakti basketball court in West Jakarta on Sunday afternoon, surprising Yudi and a few of his friends.
Denny didn’t need to introduce himself. The words “Denny Sumargo” spilled from Yudi’s lips as his eyes widened at the sight of his hero. Yudi then got to spend some time with the 2003 Indonesian Basketball League Slam Dunk champion.
Denny discussed his career with Yudi and told him what it takes to be a pro. But Denny listened more than he talked, pushing Yudi to open up so he could learn more about the SMPN 125 student.
The star gave Yudi a few shooting tips to help him take his game to the next level. But beyond basketball, Denny tried to impress on Yudi the importance of embracing energy, both positive and negative.
Denny left Yudi with more than a few basketball tips and encouraging words. He also brought along a jersey and shorts and a basketball for Yudi, all of which he signed before the day was through.
“I came to meet Yudi and the kids from Sahabat Anak, because I want to share positive energy,” said Denny, who is now in talks with Count Me In and Sahabat Anak to make basketball clinics with the kids a weekly event.
“I come from a poor family also, I know what it’s like. But I also know what it takes to change your mind-set and focus on the positive.”