Current Profession: General Manager - Kilsyth and Mountain District Basketball Association Inc (K&MDBA) Website: http://www.kilsythbasketball.com.au Family Members: Wife Yes Children Yes – 4 young boys (13yrs, 11yrs, 9 yrs and 5 yrs) Pets Dog – Golden Labrador Kilsyth and Mountain District Basketball Association
Current Profession: General Manager - Kilsyth and Mountain District Basketball Association Inc (K&MDBA)
Family Members: Wife Yes
Children Yes – 4 young boys (13yrs, 11yrs, 9 yrs and 5 yrs)
Pets Dog – Golden Labrador
Kilsyth and Mountain District Basketball Association
Kilsyth Basketball is the largest basketball Association in Australia with over 1,000 teams competing in its domestic competitions every week. Our competitions are conducted primarily at the Kilsyth Sports Centre, Lilydale Basketball Stadium and Oxley Stadium. Kilsyth and Lilydale both have four courts while Oxley College has five. All administration for Kilsyth Basketball is conducting at Kilsyth Sports Centre with support from volunteers who make up the various committees.
Players are selected to play in Kilsyth Cobra teams which represent Kilsyth in elite competitions such as the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL). Both men’s and women’s teams compete and youth league men’s and women’s development teams in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL).
Brief history of K&MDBA: The K&MDBA was formed in 1963 as a satellite competition for the Melbourne East Basketball Association. First playing out of the Croydon Secondary College the K&MDBA built its own two court facility in the early 70’s. The venue is now known as the Kilsyth Sports Centre, located at Pinks Reserve in Kilsyth and is also the home of the largest Badminton Association in Australia and the largest Table Tennis Association in Australia.
The Showcourt now known as the Hugh McMenamin Court was actually the host of the 1983 NBL finals series between Nunawading and West Adelaide. In January 2011 two new courts will be completed to provide the basketball fraternity with a six court venue and a show court of a seating capacity of around 1,600 people.
Junior Playing Career
Senior Playing Career
Most admired person in Basketball Management: Lindsay Gaze
Most admired International of USA Player: Larry Bird
Most admired Australian Coach: Michael Malthouse
Most admired Australian Player: Les Riddle / Wayne Carroll
Grant’s most inspirational phrase: Failing to plan is planning to fail!
Basketball Crazy’s Interview With Grant Wallace
BBC Hi Grant, thank you for taking the time to talk with Basketball Crazy.
GW Pleasure Robert, thank you for the invitation.
BBC It is amazing to Basketball Crazy that you must have one of the most challenging positions of employment in Australian basketball being the General Manager of arguably the biggest club in Australia. How do you handle such a challenge?
GW That depends on who you ask. I am very fortunate to have behind me a remarkable team of people at Kilsyth who are passionate about the sport, about the Cobras and about being proud community leaders within the Shire of Yarra Ranges. I am also very fortunate to have a very supportive and understanding family. This, blessed with a strict time management process and we get by.
BBC Grant, Do you have to be crazy about basketball to be the GM of Kilsyth?
GW It definitely helps. When you are passionate about whatever it is you are doing in life and do not see it as a job or chore then it is always easy to get out of bed and start the day. I feel very fortunate to be in the role I am in, doing what I love and working with so many wonderful people.
BBC What is your role as the General Manager and what would be your key responsibilities?
GW The role is so varied and I think that is the attraction for me. Overseeing 500 domestic games a week, ensuring 16 courts are clean, safe and presentable, overseeing the various development and elite programs we offer, together with managing two entertainment facilities the K&MDBA are licensee for keeps me busy.
BBC Can you give us a picture or bit of a rundown of what a day in the life of the GM would look like?
GW No two days are alike, particularly when coaching the SEABL team, as we balance everything. Also my wife works two days a week so they are my rostered days to get the boys off to school, so as I said my time management is crucially important. Most regular days start at around 8amish and then there is catching up with emails, and venue inspections or reports from the evening before. We have planning meetings and general meetings with my staff or user groups to ensure all is working like clockwork. On training nights or nights of Board meetings I might get home after 8.30pm and other nights home around 6pmish to help out with the homework, showers and dinner routines. Don’t forget the 3am security call outs too – they are always fun to respond too!
BBC Professional staff have often found it difficult to deal with Boards of Directors and other administrative committees that are mostly volunteers and perhaps don’t have the same experience and education as the staff. What are some of the difficulties you have faced and how have you overcome them?
GW It is always a delicate balance between professional people answering to voluntary people, but you must always remember it is those voluntary people who hold great responsibility and risk and you must never forget nor disrespect this. When I first arrived at Kilsyth we had a Board of four passionate basketball people who were spread extremely thin. We immediately set about recruiting some quality and respected people in the community to oversee our business and provide direction to the program. We were successful and now have a vibrant Board who are committed to ensuring Kilsyth Basketball remains the biggest and best Basketball Association in Australia. Any Board that has ulterior motives or unethical practices are never ones that I would be involved with. I cannot speak highly enough of the quality, strength and direction of our current Kilsyth Board.
BBC With so many paid staff in such a large basketball association, how do you manage to recruit, maintain and sustain the many volunteers that are still required to coach, manage and administrate the day to day activities?
GW Again it depends on who you ask as to how well we do it. Our job of managing and working with volunteers is made easy when you have strict systems, policy and leadership in place. Kilsyth is a place that many people seek to be involved with and this makes the recruitment of quality people a relatively easy task.
BBC As an experienced Manager, what do you find are some of the key skills that are deficient in when you look to recruit staff and volunteers and what programmes do you believe either the Basketball Victoria or Basketball Australia could be doing to resolve some of these deficiencies?
GW I think it is an evolving thing and we are improving. I am also Co-ordinator of our local Auskick program and I get exceptionally jealous of the amount of resources the AFL provide into its grass roots programs with material, training courses, DVD’s, recognition programs and the like. Let us not forget Basketball is the most participated sport in Victoria so we must be doing something right. I am always a huge advocate for better referee education and resources available for those dealing at the grass roots. I believe much more can be and should be done also with improving our Aussie Hoops, Hooptime, NITCP and beginner coaching programs.
BBA Grant, what are some of the key economic strategies that Kylsyth have that makes the association sustainable long term?
GW We have the fortunate situation that our Board of years gone by planned extremely well. We have a large catchment area established by having venues in Kilsyth and Lilydale and we also have the management of two large and respectable entertainment venues which provide secondary income streams to support our basketball programs growth and development.
BBC I should imagine that Kilsyth has had ambitions to have representative teams in both the NBL and WNBL. Is there any reasons why this has not occurred as yet and is there any possibility for this to occur in the future?
GW Basketball in Victoria is in desperate need of a second NBL franchise to complete the player pathways for our male athletes. We have unofficial linkages with Bulleen and Dandenong in the women which is fortunate. That said, history shows that the NBL is not a secure proposition for any sound minded business person. I am excited by the NBL attracting free to air television in 2010/11 and this will provide unbelievable exposure of our sport, but I would think right now the Board is very content with being involved in the SEABL as the pinnacle for us at this point in time.
BBC There must be some key strategies you use to have a competition that runs well across a number of different venues. What would these key strategies be and how do you keep other venues feeling as if they are part of the association?
GW We have one united management team of people leading the competitions and providing direction and guidance. We also have an outstanding communication network in place and an even better junior domestic and schools network of voluntary and committed people to ensure success for our sport within the region.
BBC Do you have the management rights at all stadiums your association conducts basketball at or are they run by Contract Managers or Local Government?
GW We hire the facility at Oxley College which is a state of the art complex and the pride of the school there. We have long term management rights with our other two facilities and excellent relationship with the local government which is a great relief that they share our passion and success for the sport and the benefit we provide to the immediate community. We are very fortunate we do not have to deal with management agencies who have their profit line as their priority and not the growth and development of the sport and feel for those associations in that position who will never be able to realize their ambitions and provide for their demands.
BBC What do you like doing away from basketball to wind down and take your mind off somewhere else to de-stress?
GW With four young boys at home I think the last time I slept more than eight hours straight was in the early 90’s. Watching them play their sport and grow into young men is a great de-stress for me. The kicking of football at the oval, or bike ride, or one on one in the backyard, or building that all important police lego station before dinner are all things I treasure. We also share a great passion in the Wallace household for those Mighty Collingwood Magpies and they have provided great release and joy for us of late and we hope 2010 is our year?
BBC As you are aware, more and more young Australian athletes are seeking scholarships in the USA College system. What do you/your association feel about Australian players moving to USA and attend college?
GW I am one who gets great splinters from sitting on the fence on this issue as I see both sides. We currently have eight junior Cobras athletes in the US College system right now and the coaching, training and life experiences they gain from their four years away is unique. However as a one eyed Australian I wish we could keep our kids here in a like University competition, provide them the same or better coaching and resources to allow these athletes to achieve their goals whilst also allowing them to remain involved with their club teams to benefit their home programs.
BBC What do you believe the State and Federal Governments could be doing to assist basketball at Kilsyth or for just basketball in general?
GW James Merlino has been without question the best State Sports Minister for our sport here in Victoria ever. The support and direction he has provided our sport will be difficult to be replicated. Clearly we need more funding to be put toward training facilities and better quality regional venues for the growth of our sport and the hosting of games for 3,000-5,000 spectators. Funding to assist grass roots development and coaching and officiating is always a major area of need also.
BBC If you became the General Manager of Basketball Australia, what would some of your priorities be?
GW I think Larry Sengstock is doing an outstanding job and he has assembled a great team around him. Getting the national body and all state bodies onto the same page is the major thing that is holding us back as a sport, so attempting to resolve this powerbase and ensure unity is achieved is paramount for the long term success of our sport.
BBC If you had significant funding to establish something that would progress basketball in Australia, what would you do?
GW I would love to see greater resources put into our Aussie Hoops and Schools programs to ensure kids select basketball as the sport of choice. Also I would market the hell out of three or four major domestic athletes who compete in the NBL and WNBL to create them as a well-known and identifiable role model for kids to relate and imitate. How good was it growing up and watching Larry, Magic or Jordan doing their thing. How good was it watching DMac, Andrew and Leroy do their things. Our best talent is obviously unfortunately overseas at the moment and we need to promote locally and let kids identify with the Corlettos, Martins, Gibsons of our domestic programs whilst also getting David Anderson, Andrew Bogut, Patrick Mills, Lauren Jackson etc to be house hold names.
BBC If a person wanted to become a General Manager of a large basketball association like Kilsyth, what would you suggest they focus their studies on and what type of experience do you believe they would need prior to being appointed?
GW With great respect I would recommend to avoid studying Sports Management. Study a strict professional line such as accounting or business management is much wiser. The reasoning is that the skills learnt are transferable into Sports Management. Given the limited opportunities to find the best and most appropriate job in sport, you can then ensure you have a fallback position to enter that line of study in a professional and far better paid setting. You cannot transfer your Sports Management qualification into the professional business world as it holds no creditability there.
Basketball Crazy wishes to thank you for your time and effort to do this interview. Readers will hopefully find your responses interesting and thought provoking to enable others to join you in the ongoing development of basketball in Australia.
GW Thanks you and I appreciate the opportunity.
End of Interview