Over 150 Students from eight Islamic schools around Sydney gathered at Auburn’s Progress Park on 24 May 2017 to participate in the annual Bachar Houli Cup hosted by the GIANTS and AFLNSW. Al-Noori Islamic School took home the cup after winning their Grand Final game against Granville Boys High School on the sunny Wednesday afternoon. 

The event, named after the Richmond Muslim player and AFL Multicultural Ambassador Bachar Houli, is an opportunity to connect young Muslim boys to the AFL. The program encourages Year 9 and 10 students of Muslim backgrounds to participate in an AFL 9’s competition.

Al Noori Islamic School were the winners of the Bachar Houli Cup. Image by AFL NSW/ACT.

This sporting event is more than just about playing AFL, it gives students the opportunity to connect with others from multicultural backgrounds all over Western Sydney in order to foster a strong sense of community and unity.

“They get to experience playing our game, learning the rules, and practicing the skills they have acquired at the various school programs we run,” said AFL Multicultural Programs Manager Nickie Flambouras.

Emad Elkheir, the GIANTS Community Engagement Coordinator said that sporting events like the Bachar Houli cup are significant in increasing social cohesion and promoting intercultural diversity.

“This is a great opportunity for young Muslim boys to positively express themselves through sport and engage in a safe and friendly environment” Elkheir said.

Al Noori student Ibrahim Zaha from Al Noori Muslim School was named ‘Best and Fairest’ player.

“This trophy is not just for me, but for all of the other boys,” Zaha said.

“I’m just glad I enjoyed myself and had a fun day.”

Students that participated in the competition have the opportunity to be selected as part of the Bachar Houli Academy, a weeklong football talent program in September for aspiring Muslim AFL Players aged between 15-18 years.

The initiative that first started in 2012 now attracts over 5000 players across New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria.