Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Richmond star Bachar Houli has been joined by Essendon speedster Adam Saad and former Saint, Ahmed Saad, to lead a group of Muslim boys on a football and cultural journey to the United Arab Emirates – home of the AFL Middle East – as part of the Bachar Houli Academy initiative to develop youth.
The travelling party were based in the capital city of Abu Dhabi, enjoying training sessions, some sightseeing and cultural experiences amid the overall objectives of developing youth through a leadership course.
Houli has long been working with Muslim youth with his academy back in Australia, but Adam Saad, the Essendon speedster, happily donated his own time to be a part of the trip to the UAE. Former St Kilda footballer, Ahmed Saad, was also there and has been instrumental recently in getting football gear to Auskick clinics in Egypt in his role within the AFL Diversity Unit.
According to AFL Middle East “the 10 Muslim boys aged 15-18 years old were hand selected by Bachar and the academy after trials in Australia. They have been in the UAE for a week and been training, visiting Muslim cultural centres and also had the opportunity to take part in the Friday prayer at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.”
“The Bachar Houli Academy provides pathways for young Muslim men across the country aspiring to play AFL football.”
“The program also focuses on strengthening players’ leadership abilities and promoting values while providing a unique football development opportunity.”
Matt Burn, General Manager of AFL Middle East, had the chance to welcome the boys to the UAE after their tough two hour session in the sun. Burn also presented Bachar with a custom made AFL Middle East Sherrin and the academy also donated some balls to AFLME.
The trip will continue in 2019 and AFLME and the Academy will look to develop the opportunities in the region.
It has been a busy fortnight over for the AFL Middle East. Not only has there been a Richmond/Essendon presence in the UAE with the Bachar Houli Academy visit, but the Greater Western Sydney Giants have also committed to working with the AFL Middle East over coming years. (See our story – GWS Giants Forge Partnership With AFL Middle East
Image: Muslim youth leaders hit the track in Abu Dhabi
World Footy News