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Record numbers for Bachar Houli Cup

Georgina Cahill, richmondfc.com.au  August 24, 2016 3:15 PM

Finals of the Bachar Houli Cup were contested at Punt Road Oval on Wednesday.

Finals of the Bachar Houli Cup were contested at Punt Road Oval on Wednesday.

A record number of participants descended on Richmond's Punt Road Oval for the fifth season of the Bachar Houli Cup, which came to a close on Wednesday.

The Cup is the brainchild of Tigers' rebounding defender Bachar Houli, who was the first practicing Muslim to play AFL.

The Bachar Houli Cup was introduced to provide Islamic based schools and students with an opportunity to participate in an interschool sport competition.

This year a record number of participants laced up their boots, growing from 300 players in 2015, to 450 players in 2016.

Wednesday's grand finals did not disappoint, with Al Taqwa taking out the Year 7/8 competition and Australian International Academy (AIA) finishing in top spot in the Year 9/10 event.

Houli, an AFL Multicultural Ambassador, was proud to see this year's program grow to include 10 Islamic schools.

“It’s great to see all the schools buying in and most importantly enjoying it,” Houli said.

“That’s what football’s about, coming out and enjoying kicking the footy around and hopefully these young men can move into local football.

“You see these boys coming from African and Asian backgrounds who have never played football in their life, so that’s what the program is about - having fun and making it a game for everyone.

“It is an inclusive game so we’re trying to offer that to these young boys.”

Standout performers from Wednesday's finals had the chance to be selected for The Bachar Houli Academy, a high performance football talent camp held for emerging junior players aged 14 to 17 years from an Islamic background.