The AFL is pleased to announce Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassador Bachar Houli has been named an inaugural winner of the Award for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding.
In a partnership between the University of South Australia’s Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding and the Australia Day Council, the award was established to highlight the efforts of people around the nation who are contributing to social harmony and community cohesion.
As the first devout Muslim to play AFL, Richmond defender Bachar Houli has become a leading influence for many young Australian Muslims.
AFL National Community Engagement Manager Jason Mifsud said Bachar Houli is committed to strengthening cultural awareness and has shown he is a great community leader.
"This award is a credit to the groundbreaking work Bachar is doing to enhance understanding of his religion and increase social inclusion within communities around Australia.
"As an Australia Post AFL Multicultural ambassador, Bachar works closely with Islamic communities to develop young football talent, while pioneering ways of bridging any divide between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
"Bachar was instrumental in the recent announcement of fulltime prayer rooms at MCG and Etihad stadium,” said Mr. Mifsud.
Houli recently launched the Bachar Houli Cup, an inter Islamic schools football competition involving Islamic schools across Victoria.
He established the Bachar Houli Academy to not only develop young footballer’s skills and give a rare insight into an AFL club’s inner sanctum but also help create greater religious and cultural understanding.
Born in Australia to Lebanese parents, Houli said he is honoured to accept the award which recognises his work with multicultural communities.
"I believe I have a responsibility towards fellow Muslims and fellow Australians to bring people closer to each other," said Houli.
Houli’s football journey started at the age of 11 with Spotswood in the Western Region Football League. He was selected in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft by Essendon and in his debut season he played four games. He joined Richmond in 2011 and has played a total of 70 games in his AFL career.
Houli will be presented with the award for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding at a ceremony at the University of South Australia’s City West campus, tonight, Monday December 10 at from 5.30 pm.