Football returned to Victoria in the name of unity in late November, when the Bachar Houli Academy met the Jolson-Maccabi-Ajax Community Team (JMA) in the second annual Jolson/Houli Unity Cup.

Richmond’s Bachar Houli Academy is a program supporting young footballers from a Muslim background, while the JMA team is made up of a diverse group of Jewish youth representing the Victorian Jewish community.

Bachar Houli Academy was victorious in the junior and senior match, but the day was about far more than football.

The Jolson/Houli Unity Cup, created as a legacy of the Australian Rules Peace Team - celebrates the Jewish and Muslim community’s contribution to and participation in the great game of Aussie Rules.

Three-time Richmond premiership player and practicing Muslim, Bachar Houli who was at the Swinburne Centre for the games, said it was exciting to see football back being played in Victoria and in the name of peace and unity.

“It is a great opportunity for Islamic and Jewish youth to come together and enjoy the game of Aussie Rules Football,” he said.

“The Interfaith Program between these two communities is an initiative we are very proud of, and the weekend was fantastic. The players were able to showcase their skills, and more importantly to come together as one using the power of sport.”

Jerome Jolson was appreciative of the occasion, adding it was fantastic to see the young footballers back playing.

“The Jolson Family are honoured to have Henry’s name associated with the Jolson/Houli Unity Cup, and proud that his legacy to provide a pathway for improved relationships between religious and ethnic groups continues thanks to the fantastic support and vision of the Richmond Football Club, Maccabi and the Bachar Houli Foundation.

“This is what sport is all about. Players and communities coming together, irrespective of their religious beliefs or backgrounds to promote peace and social cohesion in a spirit of unity, mutual respect and good sportsmanship.”

11 players from both sides will now make up a “Unity Team”, to play an Indigenous/Korin Gamadji Institute combined lineup as a curtain-raiser to Richmond's AFLW Indigenous Round clash against Geelong.

Bachar Houli Academy’s Omar Matar was awarded best on ground in the senior game and Hussein ElAchkar was terrific in the junior match, also being awarded best afield.

Federal Treasurer and deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Josh Frydenberg and Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Community Sport and Youth, Ros Spence were among those in attendance as well as Richmond Football Club President, Peggy O’Neal.

Jolson Houli Unity Cup


Bachar Houli Foundation 11.9 (75) defeated Jolson-Maccabi-Ajax Community Team 7.10 (52)