A close brotherhood and an understanding of what it takes to be an elite athlete; that’s what 10 Bachar Houli Academy players that recently returned from the program’s Elite Performance Camp in Abu Dhabi and Dubai came away with.
The players, that were voted into the camp by their peers for outstanding leadership qualities and football skills, took on the seven-day camp under the watchful eye of Bachar Houli and other Academy coaches.
As well as promoting Australian culture and Australian football to the Middle East, the trip was a chance for players to further their cultural identity.
Houli said the participants embraced the challenges that were set each day, which included a mixed martial arts training session at Dubai’s iconic Nogueira gym, with MMA champion Mounir Lazzez.
Under the tutelage of Lazzez, players learnt key martial arts training skills, that can be incorporated into their personal football training schedules.
The budding elite footballers also underwent high-performance football training, designed to mirror what they would do in an AFL program.
“The participants on this program really surprised me with their professionalism, dedication, commitment and appetite to learn,” Houli explained.
Learning was a key part of the Elite Performance Camp, and participants were able to share experiences with the nation's local AFL players, that make up AFL Middle East.
AFL Middle East, while mostly made up of Australian expats, include members from diverse multicultural backgrounds.
“I was really excited with how much the players have improved on and off the field,” Houli said.
When not training, players toured the iconic Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and learnt about the UAE culture and its history, in line with the high value the Academy places on cultural exchanges.
“The players have now developed a solid foundation to grow into role models for our community and they have the potential to become an elite AFL player,” Houli said.
A further highlight of the trip was a session at Haddins Gym in UAE, which was organised by the Australian Embassy.
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