Six Calder Cannons and two Northern Knights players were amongst those participating when the Bachar Houli Senior Academy took on the Victorian Diversity All-Stars at Victoria Park on Thursday morning.
The Victorian Diversity All-Stars team features Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and players from culturally diverse backgrounds who either feature on Coates Talent League lists or have been involved in talent pathways programs.
Cannons’ players Mohammad Abdallah, Adam Sweid, El Achkar, Amin Naim and Mahmoud Taha and Knights’ Zane Souleiman were a part of the academy team while Divjot Singh from the Cannons and Milun Fernando of the Knights played for the diversity all-stars.
The Bachar Houli Senior Academy came together in Melbourne to take part in a week-long football program during the 2023 AFL Grand Final week.
The academy is a high-performance football talent program for 15 to 18-year-olds from an Islamic background.
The academy uses football as a vehicle to promote mental and physical health and wellbeing. The program also aims to strengthen cultural identity by building confidence through education and developing leadership skills to inspire the next generation of leaders.
The academy team’s coaching panel are all members of the Bachar Houli coaching pathway program, led by head coach Mohammed Kaakour who this year served as an assistant coach with Richmond’s Victorian Football League program.
Participants took part in a host of football, education and personal development sessions over the course of the week.
AFL multicultural and Bachar Houli talent programs manager Ahmed Saad said being part of the academy is an important step in the on and off-field development of the participants.
Saad also played 33 AFL games for St Kilda, and kicked 48 goals.
“The program helps to develop football, personal and leadership skills to further develop as our participants as athletes and young men,” Saad said.
“We hope our participants can also impart these skills within their football clubs and communities.”
The academy team arrived in camp last Monday as part of the week-long program.
Players were put through their paces when they took part in AFL Combine modelled testing on Monday afternoon.
The squad trained at the Swinburne Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Richmond coach Adem Yze on hand to welcome players during their opening session.
The Bachar Houli Senior Academy also took part in an exhibition match against the Alex Rance Academy at the MCG on Sunday morning.