How Amro Matti went from the bench to a star player
A story of perseverance and persistence.

Every kid dreams of becoming a star player for their sports team. For Amro Matti, a third-year student at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) double majoring in criminology and political science, that dream became a reality—but not without an incredible journey of perseverance and persistence. 

Matti’s basketball journey started when he was in grade seven. Initially a soccer player, Matti had difficulty mastering even the simple chest pass when he first started. This all changed with his determination to be better and his dedication to the sport. After countless hours of training, learning the game, and gaining experience through drop-ins, Matti’s skills began to flourish. Eventually, he was good enough to play for the Father Michael Goetz (FMG) high school basketball team. 

Matti consistently worked hard to be the best player he could be and continued to improve. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic halted his training, as it did for so many athletes. In Matti’s case, the pandemic came at a terrible time: his basketball career had just started to flourish, and he could no longer be scouted by universities and colleges. When school resumed following the pandemic, Matti took his chance to try out for the UTM men’s basketball team. Even though he was at a severe disadvantage as a player neither scouted nor priorly known by the team, Matti was determined to make the team.

He did make the team, and UTM performed well during Matti’s first season, enjoying a winning streak and overall great performances. Unfortunately, as a 17-year-old tryout player, Matti averaged only a few minutes a game, if any. Despite his limited playing time, he continued to train and practice to the best of his abilities. 

That all changed on March 12, 2023, in a game against the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus (UTSC). After a teammate went down with an injury, Matti stepped up and scored 23 points, leading his team to victory. Following this victory, Matti gained the trust of his coach and teammates and reignited his passion and confidence for the sport. 

Matti followed this performance up with a solid second year on the team. Matti became one of the team’s top contributors in both points and rebounds, a significant increase compared to his first year. He evolved and grew through his endless hours of training and determination, culminating in a 32-point performance that brought the championship home in his second year. This championship served as a clear symbol of the journey Matti took and where he is now as a player. 

This victory changed Matti’s perspective on success and determination. “One of the most profound realizations has been redefining failure not as a loss but as a vital component of growth,” he shared with The Medium. “The path from a bench player to a starting position is full of challenges and moments of self-doubt. Nonetheless, this journey shows the importance of resilience—the capacity to recover from setbacks. I’ve come to see each instance of failure as a chance to learn, develop, and return even stronger.”

According to his friends, the growth in Matti’s game is due to his immense work ethic. “Amro’s biggest asset is his work ethic and his drive to be the best player,” Ahmad Kubbar, a UTM MBiotech student, told The Medium. “He is constantly playing basketball, and he always plays with a purpose. Even when he’s playing a casual game, he chooses a skill or two to work on, simulating what he would be doing in a competitive game. When he is training, he makes it uncomfortable, receiving poor passes or shooting from poor angles, further simulating the opportunities he would get in game.”

Matti’s cultural background has also played a crucial role in his experience. He stated, “As a Middle Eastern man in the world of basketball, I found myself in a unique position due to the scarcity of players with similar backgrounds. My passion for basketball stems from its incredible ability to unite people from diverse cultures. Whether I’m experiencing a challenging day, or one filled with joy, basketball has always been the perfect escape. The friendships I’ve made through basketball are too numerous to count, highlighting the sport’s power to bring people together.”

Matti hopes his story will inspire the next generation of UTM athletes. He believes welcoming and supporting first-year players is crucial to their growth and integration into the team, and he hopes to provide mentorship through his journey and insights.

Sports & Health Editor (Volume 50); Locked on Leafs Columnist (Volume 48 & 49) — Omar is in his final year at UTM, working towards completing a major in CCIT and double minors in Political Science and Anthropology. Omar loves to keep up with various sports teams, his favourite being the Toronto Maple Leafs. When he isn’t stressing over exams or the Leafs, you can find him watching movies, looking at shoes he can only hope to afford, and trying his best to avoid parking tickets on campus.


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