When I was younger, my family didn’t appreciate sport as they thought it was a distraction. At 14 I decided to become a professional footballer. It was difficult to convince my parents at first but now they are my biggest supporters. It’s great to see that football is now a real part of education in schools. I love my role as an Ambassador because I engage with young people from diverse communities and many who speak another language. In football, even if you don’t speak English, someone will always help you. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what colour you are. You’re going to be accepted.
I give 100 % to whatever I’m doing, whether it’s on or off the field. I’m really passionate about the Bachar Houli Cup I’ve created, which gives Islamic-based schools the opportunity to participate in an AFL 9’s competition. While it’s challenging, it’s a lot of fun. I speak to football clubs about multiculturalism to engage them to accommodate players from different backgrounds. As a Muslim, I pray five times a day which means it could be when I’m training. I really appreciate it that my club respects my faith as they’ve given me a prayer room to use. They provide halal food for me which is prepared in a special way according to Islamic law.
My parents own a fish and chip shop in Werribee, Melbourne, which is very different to the Lebanese food we’re served at home. I love hanging out there with dad to watch the football on TV. I used to work there as a kid when I was young. I’m still there in a way. Dad put a picture of me on the wall so everyone knows who his son is!
Listen to Bachar’s story: