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Despite Postponing Competitions Into 2021 Amidst COVID-19, Ontario Basketball’s HP Manager Carmelo Mallia Presses On

Carmelo Mallia | Manager of High Performance | Ontario Basketball

Contrary to popular belief, basketball organizations, such as Ontario Basketball are still very busy despite the postponement of competitions until 2021. HP Manager Carmelo Mallia discusses with us.

Carmelo Mallia

Manager of High Performance

Ontario Basketball

× The interview with Carmelo Mallia was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as the Manager of High Performance at Ontario Basketball and what does a typical day look like for you?

There are four main pillars that make up my role :

  1. Middle Management and Leadership
  2. Program Planning and Management
  3. Financial Planning and Management
  4. Community Relations and Advocacy

Things have changed alongside a basketball landscape that has grown a lot over the last few years. This makes every day relatively unique and really challenges your ability to adapt to new circumstances within the business of amateur basketball.

The Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA) is a prime example of that evolution in Canada. Providing elite-level competition and exposure to high school-aged student-athletes six (6) years ago was something we talked about; however, it was not a priority within the organization’s strategic plan at that time.

The focus was geared more towards the planning and delivery of our regional training development programs and planning all aspects of our provincial teams — administration, coach and student-athlete selection, budgeting and financial management, facility bookings, domestic and international travel, food and accommodations, team apparel, etc.

These programs remain part of our strategic plan, but the priority shifted in 2015 with the launch of the inaugural OSBA season. The goal was to provide an elite-level competition structure and centralize the student-athletes daily training environment within their respective schools.

We now work with a select group of schools, administrators, athletic directors, and principals to provide governance and manage all primary and supporting functions of the OSBA’s — budgeting and financial management, policy development and rules enforcement, website and database management, game scheduling, officiating development, marketing and communications, etc.

The one constant in a typical day for me is connecting with our women’s and men’s technical lead to plan and strategize along with connecting with the various coaches that support our programs.

Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your role as the Manager of High Performance at Ontario Basketball. Tell us how so.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on my role and the basketball community.

The Ministry of Health has not allowed the use of physical contact, so teams have been limited to training without contact and forced the organization to postpone all competitions until 2021.

Basketball is a great sport and many Ontarians can't wait to get back on the court. What do you like most about being a Manager of High Performance? Why basketball for you?

Basketball has always been a passion of mine and provided me with an outlet at an early age during a crucial time. That passion grew tenfold when the Raptors were born.

Growing up in a single-parent immigrant household in Scarborough, the thought of organized basketball was not even on the radar, so I grew up playing just recreationally. Everyone I knew wanted to work for the Raptors, but I had no idea that working in sport, let alone amateur basketball, was even an option until later on in high school.

When I reflect on the best aspects of my role a few things stand out — contributing to people’s growth and development, having the opportunity to be in the gym around basketball, getting to earn a living while working in sport, and most importantly the relationships you build.

Basketball unites people from all walks of life and I have been fortunate enough to build some life-long friendships through the game.

Managing anything in sport almost always comes with challenges given the unpredictable nature of sport itself. That's especially true right now given the pandemic. Talk about how you overcome challenges that you are faced with in your current role.

I try to look at things from a wide variety of perspectives (e.g. event organizer, coach, student-athlete, parent, volunteer, spectator, etc.). This helps me develop a strong plan, anticipate the potential barriers, and strategize contingencies to overcome them when they happen.

Challenges are inevitable, but it is very important to engage outside opinions from friends, family, colleagues or mentors throughout the planning process and during any issues that happen.

Having that foundation, while being mindful that things will not always go according to plan, will help you to adapt and move forward.

Emma Greer Emma's Final Thoughts

Carmelo Mallia, Manager of High Performance at Ontario Basketball has a passion for the game that goes far beyond his role. At Ontario Basketball, Carmelo contributes to the growth and development of athletes through his management and planning responsibilities, and in more recent years he has been able to be apart of the evolution of basketball in Canada. Although COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Carmelo’s role and the basketball community, it hasn’t taken away from his passion for the game that started at a very young age! With Carmelo’s ability to see issues from multiple perspectives, he is able to push through the challenges that come his way. Although the sport industry has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, professionals like Carmelo are able to hold onto their passion and persevere.

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