Star Richmond defender Bachar Houli has been named as one of four finalists for the 2020 Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award.
Presented annually the award recognises an AFL or AFLW player who best exemplifies the values of the late Melbourne Football Club President and Brownlow Medallist Jim Stynes, through their commitment to community and helping others.
Bachar has been noted for his groundbreaking work with young Islamic Australians and the broader community. He is regarded as a community leader and role model through the work of the Bachar Houli Foundation – an organisation he founded to promote social cohesion and harmony. Houli is now a prominent public figure thanks to his dedication and commitment to community work with Muslim youth and has been internationally recognised for his work.
In 2011, Bachar, with the support of the AFL multicultural programs, established the Bachar Houli Program engaging young Muslims in football through a series of community engagement and pathway programs for both male and females. In 2020, he launched the Bachar Houli Foundation as a not-for-profit charitable organisation in partnership with the AFL and Richmond Football Club.
Since the establishment of the program, the Bachar Houli Foundation has engaged over 30,000 young people and delivers nine unique national programs annually including the Bachar Houli Academies, Ramadan dinners, Bachar Houli Cup and employment program.
Following the Victorian bushfires in January, Bachar volunteered his personal time to visit victims in Gippsland through local charity Human Appeal.
Bachar worked with local agencies, cooking and distributing meals to frontline workers, taking photographs with locals and the 2019 Premiership Cup, and distributing merchandise he personally collected. Bachar made two visits to bushfire affected areas and supported the Human Appeal and My Centre fundraising events through social media promotion and event speaking engagements.
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Houli took it upon himself to lead a number of activities to support the community through challenging times.
These initiatives included a six-week online training video to support physical health in lockdown, a Facebook video sharing his personal story and impact of COVID-19 encouraging the Australian community to follow the advice of Government to stop the spread, which reached 24 million people, and Storytime an online program where prominent interviewees would share a hero, a hardship and highlight in their life with Bachar.
“Bachar has spent a good part of his fourteen-year AFL career serving the community. His passion and leadership in this space over a long period is unparalleled,” said Richmond CEO Brendon Gale.
“Our Club is incredibly proud of the community work Bachar does. He is an extraordinary person that is committed to improving and shaping the lives of the next generation of Islamic youth.
“Football is a wonderful vehicle to engage youth, but it takes an authentic commitment to maximise the outcomes, and we see that with Bachar every day. We are lucky to call him one of our own and the work he does to build a more harmonious and cohesive community is incredibly important.”