BQ News

September 8, 2023

People of Basketball: Maddie Borg

People of Basketball: Maddie Borg

Maddison Borg's journey in basketball is a tale of passion, and purpose. Born into a basketball family, with her father Jo Borg as an elite-level basketball coach, Maddison’s life was shaped by the sport from the very beginning.

Hailing from Victoria, Maddison’s early years were spent closely observing her father's coaching endeavours, with his influence igniting her own interest in basketball.

“I think that being a coaches daughter gives you another view of the game,” said Borg.

She began her basketball journey with the Melbourne Tigers in her junior years and notably represented the Maltese national team twice as an under 18s player.

As time went on, her focus shifted from playing to coaching, driven by her passion for the game and a desire to contribute to the community.

“Coaching allows me to give back to the community, and the sport that has given me so much and has allowed me to travel and see the world and have so many experiences and meet so many new people,” said Borg.

Maddison's transition to coaching began in 2017 with the Ivor Burge program in Victoria.

Encouraged by her father's positive experience, she dove into it with enthusiasm.

“After his first day with the program, he came back to me and said you have to do this, this is you, you’ll love it, so I followed him and I haven’t looked back since,” said Borg.

The challenge of simplifying complex basketball concepts for athletes with intellectual disabilities was a daunting one.

“I remember being nervous, as to how I was supposed to convey these otherwise quite complex basketball ideas, to athletes who have anIQ of lower than 75,” said Borg

Yet, it was these athletes themselves who fuelled her commitment. Their dedication and genuine appreciation became the driving force behind her involvement.

“I think just by virtue of having a disability, it puts them into a category where they’re not always afforded the best opportunities in life, so when there is someone there that genuinely cares about them and that genuinely wants them to be better, they are just so appreciative,” said Borg.

Maddison made the move to Queensland in 2021. Eager to immerse herself in the local basketball scene, she joined the Brisbane Capitals playing in both the NBL1 and QSL leagues. Yet, her passion for coaching was unwavering, continuing her role as the assistant coach for the Ivor Burge women's team in Victoria despite the distance.

This dedication eventually led to a bigger role – re-estabilising the Ivor Burge program in Queensland in 2022 alongside Calum Edsor, the head coach of the Queensland men's team.

“We had the same vision and goal for what we wanted to achieve out of the program, we also both see the athletes in the same light."

“It’s about looking at a disability as a challenge rather a limitation – if you treat them like they have a disability they’re never going to perform at their highest," said Borg.

While building the program, she faced the challenge of recruiting players, but her connections and history in the game played in her favour.

“We emailed and called every basketball association in Queensland, every special school in Queensland along with disability support organisations."

"It was just all about networking and trying to get our message out there to as many people as possible across Queensland,” said Borg.

From a humble beginning with just three players, the program quickly grew - enrolling 19 athletes for the comeback season, a number that would subsequently soar to over 40.

“This is 100% my purpose in life, I just know that this is what I want to do, I just get so much joy from seeing our athletes succeed,” said Borg.

Her journey came full circle, as she watched the athletes don the Queensland colours at the Ivor Burge National Championships earlier this year, just a mere six months after the program's remake.

“It was amazing to see something that has come out of nothing, to see players in Queensland uniforms competing on the National stage," said Borg.

"Hopefully now we’re building a program that will run parallel with national program and we can start getting Queensland players filtering into the Pearls and Boomerangs,” said Borg.

Maddison’s is more determined than ever to push this program to new heights and put Queensland on the map as National Ivor Burge contenders.