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Tuesday, June 25 2019 @ 04:53 am ACST

Further exposure for Houli

Middle EastAfter all the media hype over the past year, Bachar Houli last night got the chance to let his football talents do the talking. The young Bomber was named to play in the evening’s NAB cup match against Carlton, held at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome. This level of match is arguably inferior only to a Premiership match (at least standard-wise), and depending on how the coaching staff rated his performance, it may help determine if and when he sees his first match for points.

Prior to last year’s draft, Houli’s name came to the public’s attention not so much because of his talent with the Sherrin, but more due to his background. Houli is the son of Lebanese immigrants to Australia and is a practicing Muslim. This build-up only intensified when he was drafted by Essendon; with it suspected that he is the AFL’s first Muslim player. Earlier mentions of Houli can be viewed in Houli determined to make the grade and Houli gets the nod.

Houli’s 'fame' has even extended beyond our shores, with an article on his story, Faith drives Muslim footballer appearing on the British website, The Muslim News Online.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun also ran a relevant article in the past week, Muslims challenge prejudice. It speaks of how the Islamic Council of Victoria has joined forces with a federal agency to help project to society, a positive image of ordinary Muslims. Comments of late, particularly by Sydney Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilaly, haven’t helped to improve perceptions that Muslims don’t want to integrate with the rest of Australia.

Through a Bringing Communities Together program, the two organisations (along with others) will recognise both Muslims and non-Muslims who have assisted social cohesion and integration. Houli has been acknowledged as doing this, through his efforts in reaching the elite level of football.

7 News Melbourne also had a segment on Houli as part of Friday night’s 6 pm bulletin.  In the end his side went down to Carlton in a close one.  After the match coach Sheedy felt Houli had shown some promise, saying "Bachar knows how to get the ball, he's just got to make sure his decision's right when he gets it and not overcomplicate it.  But, the one good thing he does do, he's very much a team man. There's a little bit of (former Richmond star) Dale Weightman there, with his hands ... he plays with vision, which is what I like".
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