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Sunday, July 21 2019 @ 11:56 am ACST

Houli determined to make the grade

Middle East

As a Muslim and being of Lebanese extract, Bachar Houli is hardly the stereotypical footballer. Yet next week, Houli will pull on the Vic Metro jumper and represent his state in the Under-18 national competition. It is a big step for any footballer, let alone one who has had to struggle at times with the additional stresses of racial, religious and cultural differences.

Like all players representing their state, Houli ultimately wants to be drafted into the AFL, something that would make him the first Muslim player to compete at the highest level. It would be a fitting result not only for himself but also for his family and community who have supported him along the way.

The AFL is not unfamiliar with overseas-born players, and many of the league's stars are the children and grandchildren of migrants. Lebanese-Australians are the ninth-largest ethnic group in Australia. Although in the past, this has not resulted in great numbers playing Australian Football at the elite level, perhaps with Houli’s determination to succeed this will all change and the AFL will see an influx of Lebanese-Australian players following in former Carlton star Mil Hanna’s footsteps.

The Age (Saturday, 24 June 2006) recently ran an article on him, titled After a furtive start, Houli's aiming to be noticed. It contains some great insight into the challenges for a young Muslim sportsman, including issues of pray and fasting.

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