Bruno Cerella: : Slums Dunk and how I spent my summer
Bruno Cerella made his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut last season by helping EA7 Emporio Armani Milan reach the playoffs for the first time. Cerella makes a habit of helping. The Argentine native is the founder of Slums Dunk, a five-year-old non-profit organization whose aim is to improve through basketball the hopes of children and youth living in some of the largest slums in Africa. Find out more at http://slumsdunk.wordpress.com/ and follow Bruno's blog this season on Euroleague.net
First of all, thanks to everyone in Euroleague.net for giving me this great chance to speak my mind. It has been an unforgettable summer for me and my project, Slums Dunk. It is a basketball camp in Africa for coaches and young players in run-down areas. My summers are always a lot of fun, as I usually spend them on four different continents. What made this summer a wonderful one is that, for the first time, we could use our new Slums Dunk basketball court, which is practically finished, to conduct our basketball academy right in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya. I spend a lot of precious time there every summer, sharing a passion and love for this sport that brings different cultures together so well. I work a lot on it throughout the season along with our "team" (Tommaso Marino, Michele Carrea, Giuseppe Di Paolo, Federicco Capelli, Simone Rasso and everyone collaborating in Kenya and Italy) to get this project going. It is a big, big part of my life nowadays. You can find all about it at http://slumsdunk.wordpress.com/about-slums-dunk/, and here is a small movie we did two years ago.
I have been devoted to this project for five years. It all started after reading a book which gave me the required strength to start seeing further than my professional life and the simple fact that I live a privileged life as a professional athlete. I wanted to have a life experience, get to know a different culture through basketball and, of course, try to help people who are more in need than I am. It is a way to give back to sports for giving me a wonderful life. We now have a basketball academy in which 20 different schools are involved in our activities. Those activities are not only limited to basketball, but also linked to what we could call "life skills": meetings with professionals such as dentists, gynecologists, doctors and people who can improve these kids' quality of life.
The kids are living in a completely different reality than ours, one in which only a few times ca families enjoy basic services, education and health. And they don't have the chance to play sports, because there are no facilities in these suburbs, which often have more than 100,00 inhabitants. Tomorrow seems far away for them. They cannot plan ahead in their lives. It is difficult to put ourselves in their place and understand all the difficulties they go through on a daily basis. We have an incredible time with people who always open their doors for us and give us their affection from the first day that we set foot in Kenya.
All I can say is that Slums Dunk is an unbelievable part of my life. It was born without an awareness of everything going on in these places, but the project grows every year and we are improving it from each and every angle. I believe that there is not a more beautiful life experience than getting to know another culture through sports, helping people who cannot live the way you are living. We are not here to save the Earth, but to help improve the kids' quality of life, giving them the chance to play sports and trying to educate them through it. And, of course, that is truly important.
Apart from that, I have been to a lot of places this summer. I love photography and like to organize trips to less touristic places. Above all, I love scuba diving, especially if I go with my camera. I was scuba diving in Malaysia (Sipadan, Borneo) - amazing places with no pollution and with a chance to get to know their underwater life. I always go back to my hometown of Bahia Blanca, Argentina every year, where I enjoy seeing my family and friends. At the same time, I try to practice a little bit in a city where basketball is a priority.
We will have plenty of time to talk about basketball in my second blog. You can follow me in Instagram (romeo_1986), Twitter (BrunoCerella) and Facebook (Bruno-Cerella). See you around!