Helmy Yahya, presenter, podcaster, basketball enthusiast doing his part to build a better basketball ecosystem

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Helmy Yahya
Helmy Yahya – presenter, podcaster, basketball enthusiast. Photo: IBL

IO – Former presenter now podcaster Helmy Yahya expresses his joy that his work now allows him to get close to basketball again. “I am so glad to be here, to get in the thick of the basketball scene again,” he said as he hosted a media workshop on Thursday, 6 January 2022 at CGV FX Sudirman, Jakarta. “My first stint with the media started with basketball. I was known as the “Quiz King” when I worked under Mrs. Ani Sumadi, but I became part of the media crew when I worked as an NBA basketball reporter for a sports tabloid.”

NBA was booming when Helmy studied in America. He mentioned that his colleague Reinhard Tawas was the first person who got him enthusiastic about basketball: “Rein hard worked at an international hotel at the time, and he had the privilege of being able to get free NBA match tickets. He frequently took me to the games that he watched. I myself never played basketball, but I love to watch all kinds of sports and I was overjoyed,” he said.

When he covered the Barcelona Olympics on Indonesian TV with Reinhard back in 1992, Helmy stated that they did a lot of research. “We didn’t want to report like other reporters, so we decided to give more in-depth description about the countries parading on the Opening Ceremony and during the matches too,” he said.

Presenting basketball on TV naturally allowed Helmy to become close with athletes in those days. “We need to get close to them to know them. If you know them well enough, you can even make up appropriate nicknames for them,” he said, alluding to his old habit of giving evocative nicknames to athletes. “For example, I called Hakim Rahman of Indonesia Muda “The Judge” as a pun on his name, as “Hakim” means “Judge”. I also called Oei A Kiat, Bima Sakti Malang’s shooter, “Bayi Ajaib” or “Wonder Baby” for his small stature yet giant actions. Don’t hesitate to give suitable and exciting nicknames to players! A sports presenter or commenter must be able to bring excitement to viewers, even though the match itself may be flat and boring.”

Helmy felt that the importance of proper research was brought home to him very deeply when he hosted NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s press conference in Jakarta in the mid-1990’s. “Kareem was extremely annoyed when a journalist actually asked him his shoe size. I tell you! He was a star – everybody knows everything about him! Petty data like that is something a journalist worth his salt can find out before interviewing!” he said. “On the other hand, Kareem was pleasantly surprised and touched when I asked him about his former coach. This personal touch is extremely important for world-class athletes. This is why research is extremely important before interviewing anyone, especially stars.” Helmy’s relationship with sports in general and basketball in particular became even closer when he presented the Primary Basketball Competition (Kompetisi Basketball Utama – “Kobatama”) series for a TV station. “Kobatama was extremely exciting. There were so many sponsors too. Indonesia’s competitive basketball later on dimmed perceptibly, but the IBL shows continued signs of national basketball’s revival,” he said. “The entry of celebrities like Raffi Ahmad, Gading Marten, and Baim Wong into the basketball scene bodes good for its revival in Indonesia. I believe that the future of basketball in Indonesia is getting brighter by the day. We need to build a healthy basketball ecosystem, and it takes everyone’s contribution to do this. The media’s role is extremely important.”

Finally, Helmy reminds everyone that journalists or the media play an important role, but everyone has to cooperate to establish a strong basketball ecosystem. “The athletes, the clubs, the regulators, and naturally the media must all provide and preserve a healthy ecosystem for the sports,” he said. “My part is by providing quality basketball content through the media, during IBL 2022.” (rp)