Houli playing for Richmond in March 2017
|Date of birth||12 May 1988|
|Place of birth||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Original team(s)||Western Jets (TAC Cup)|
|Draft||No. 42, 2006 AFL National Draft: Essendon|
Round 7, 2007, Essendon|
vs. Kangaroos, at Telstra Dome
|Height||180 cm (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||84 kg (185 lb)|
|Position(s)||Defender / Midfielder|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of round 23, 2019.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Bachar Houli (Arabic: ? ?, born 12 May 1988) is an Australian rules footballer for Richmond in the Australian Football League (AFL). Houli plays as a midfielder. He is the second devout Muslim to play in the AFL. Houli stated in an interview at the time of his debut in 2007 that he was the first practicing Muslim to play for a senior AFL side, although he also acknowledged that prior to him there had been two other Muslims in the league, these being Adem Yze and Sedat Sir. He is the first Muslim to have won an AFL premiership.
Houli was born in Australia to Lebanese parents. The young left-footer began playing football with Spotswood Football Club Under 12s in 2000. After consulting with a Sheikh, Houli decided to break his Ramadan fast for three days during the physical endurance tests at the AFL Draft Camp; this allowed him to record sufficiently good times to impress recruiters and be a viable selection in the draft.
Houli has said it was hard growing up a devout Muslim, and playing Australian rules football at the same time. There was little organised sport played in Islamic schools, and he had to sneak out when he was young in his earlier years in order to just play games without his parents knowing. His persistence playing the sport finally led to his parents accepting and being supportive of his talents which led him to become an AFL player.
Houli was drafted at pick 42 in the 2006 National Draft by Essendon. He played four games for the Bombers in 2007 and kicked three goals. After his impressive performances in the Bombers 2008 NAB Cup he was selected for the Bombers Round 1 team to play the Kangaroos. He played an important part in helping the Bombers secure a 55-point victory and received the first round nomination for the AFL Rising Star award. After the completion of the 2010 trade week, Houli left Essendon and was drafted by Richmond with their only selection in the 2010 Pre-season Draft.
In round 14, 2017, Houli copped an initial two-match suspension for striking Carlton's Jed Lamb during the first quarter of the match between Richmond and Carlton at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. However, the AFL later appealed against this suspension, saying that it was "manifestly inadequate" given the impact of the incident. Subsequently, Houli's suspension was increased to four matches. in the 2017 AFL Grand Final, Houli was considered one of the better players on the ground coming runner-up in the Norm Smith Medal.
|Totals||Averages (per game)|
Houli has become a leading influence for many young Australian Muslims; his dedication and commitment to his AFL career has enabled him to become a primary figure in his Muslim community. Houli's role has been likened to that of Hazem El Masri in the Rugby League community, and he currently works one day a week as an AFL cultural ambassador.Adem Yze, a Melbourne regular from 1995 to 2007, was one of the first Muslim Aussie Rules players at AFL level, and Houli has stated his desire to follow in Yze's footsteps. He is also only the second player of a Lebanese background to play in the AFL (the first being Mil Hanna). He is married to Rouba Abou-Zeid.