Coates Talent League, Smithy’s VFL and SANFL reap rewards of talented Bachar Houli Foundation academy graduates

The Bachar Houli Foundation’s talent pool has increased two-fold since 2023, as 18 academy graduates are now listed across the Coates Talent League, the Smithy’s VFL and the SANFL in 2024.

The Bachar Houli Foundation (BHF) delivers high-performance training, mentoring and education opportunities to Islamic boys across Australia aged between 12 and 18 through its Junior and National Senior Boys Academies.

The cornerstone of the high-performance opportunities offered to participants in the BHF’s Academies is the pathway and selection into the Elite Performance Academy – a 12-month program that focuses on developing the twelve best participants from the Senior Boys Academy as footballers and enhancing their sense of identity as young Australian Muslims.

Part of the Elite Performance Academy is an eight-day international camp in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Academy – taking place across Abu Dhabi and Dubai – is designed to deepen the participant’s leadership skills, cultural awareness, life skills, and footballing ability.       

Fresh off the 2024 Elite Performance Camp in the UAE, Mahmoud Taha and Amin Naim have earned themselves playing contracts in Essendon’s VFL program.

Mahmoud Taha (left) and Amin Naim (right).

Taha and Naim have journeyed through different stages of football, side-by-side.

Touted as prospects within Essendon’s Next Generation Academy (NGA) in previous years, the pathway into playing their football at Windy Hill was as clear as day.

Before VFL football this year, Taha and Naim, both 18 years of age, starred in the Coates Talent League with the Calder Cannons.

In 2023, Taha took out the joint best-and-fairest award for the club, while Naim secured third place.

Taha, a ball-winning midfielder, hoisted 27 disposals and five tackles on average for the Cannons in a year where he also represented Vic Metro in the Under-18 Championships, and received an invitation to test at the AFL’s State Draft Combine in Victoria.

Naim, a hybrid forward and vice-captain for the Cannons at the time, would finish the season as the side’s leading goalkicker and seventh overall on the season after scoring 26 goals from 14 outings.

Also earning himself a VFL playing contract for the 2024 season was Lukmain Haddara.

Haddara, a past Bachar Houli Medallist, played his football for the Point Cook Centrals Football Club in the Western Football Netball League in 2023.

In the same year as a train-on in Richmond’s VFL program, he had the opportunity to regularly train at Punt Road, seek mentoring from coach Steve Morris and apply his craft at local level.

As a testament to his rise in the ranks at Tigerland, Haddara was rewarded with his playing contract at Richmond VFL in March 2024.

Haddara would also notch a game with the Western Jets back in 2022.

In 2024, two of the BHF’s young up-and-comer’s Khaled El-Souki and Mahmoud El-Haouli are following in Lukmain’s footsteps at the Jets, selected as part of the Western Jets Futures (Under-16) squad.

Before their selection into the Jets’ Under-16 squad, El-Souki and El-Haouli were chosen as part of the Foundation’s new ‘Futures’ program in late 2023 by BHF Programs Manager and ex-Saint Ahmed Saad.

Set out by Saad, the ‘Futures’ program serves as an extension of the Elite Performance Academy, offering additional training opportunities for talented younger players who weren’t initially selected.

The pair of Jets trained with the BHF’s 2024 Elite Performance Academy in Melbourne before their camp in the UAE.

As part of the program, they also worked closely with BHF High-Performance Lead Michael Chiovitti, who provided invaluable insight and knowledge stemming from his experience with the Melbourne Boomers, Richmond Football Club, and most recently the Newcastle Jets.

Khaled El-Souki (left) and Mahmoud El-Haouli (right).

El-Souki and El-Haouli featured in the Jets’ two matches in the Under-16 competition this season, and both kicked two goals across both games.

The duo joined Taaj Assafiri and Hussein Kadour as BHF Academy graduates at the Western Jets in 2024.

Assafiri, 18, was one of twelve Elite Performance participants in 2024.

Since returning from the UAE, the defender has notched two matches with the Jets this season, after playing eight in 2023.

Before an unfortunate season-ending ACL injury in 2023, 188cm swingman Kadour averaged 17 disposals and five marks for the Jets.

Like Assafiri, Kadour was an Elite Performance participant in 2024, and is poised to make his return for the Jets this season after months of rehab.

Taaj Assafiri (left) and Hussein Kadour (right).

Participants in the 2023 Junior Boys Academy, Blake Justice and Jad Naim (younger brother of Amin) have earned their way into the Calder Cannons’ Under-16 squad for 2024.

The young pair featured in the Cannons’ two matches this season, with Justice converting three majors across the two games.

They join a trio of Senior Academy graduates, Khalil Kaakour, Adam Sweid and Hussien El-Achkar, who make part of Calder’s Under-18 squad this year.

Kaakour is a zippy mid-forward who was awarded in 2023 as the EDFL’s Under-18.5 Best and Fairest playing for the Pascoe Vale Panthers.

Midfield duo Sweid and El-Achkar would also enjoy strong seasons at Pascoe Vale in the Under-16 competition, and the pair would shine on the leagues’ award night.

Sweid finished third in the Best and Fairest rankings with 13 votes, and second in the goal-kicking ranks after booting 27 goals for the season, only behind teammate El-Achkar, who converted 44 majors for the season, and took away the Best and Fairest award with 22 votes.

Khalil Kaakour (left), Adam Sweid (centre) and Hussien Al-Achkar (right).

Adam Sammie, a Senior Academy participant in 2023, is now an Under-16 Northern Knight in 2024.

Sammie featured for the Knights against the Oakleigh Chargers in Round 2.

Aymen Ismail is a South Australian BHF Academy graduate who has taken his talents to the Under-18 SANFL this year.

After playing three games with North Adelaide as an Under-16 footballer in 2023, he’s been included in the Under-18 squad for 2024.

Ismail is a regular face in the BHF’s South Australian Academies and was awarded as the state’s Bachar Houli Medallist back in 2022.

Last year, Ismail made the trip to Melbourne after being selected for the 2023 National Senior Boys Academy.

Adam Sammie (left) and Aymen Ismail (right).

The trio of 2023 VFL-listed BHF academy graduates have started their 2024 seasons strongly.

Carrying on from his strong season with the Northern Bullants in 2023, Saad El-Hawli has picked up where he left off this year.

El-Hawli, a rebounding half-backman, is averaging 25 disposals through his first four games for the Bullants in 2024.

In an impressive feat, El-Hawli has collected more than 30 disposals in two matches this season.

Off the back of a strong first season with Richmond VFL in 2023, and an invite to the AFL’s State Draft Combine in Victoria last October, Mutaz El Nour has started his season strongly.

The intercept-defender was announced as a vice-captain by coach Steve Morris at the beginning of the season and has put up 16 disposals and six marks on average through his first four games.

Mohammed Yassine has continued to rapidly improve within Richmond’s VFL program.

Notching eight games in 2023, Yassine, a crafty and nimble half-forward, has played in the Tigers’ opening three matches this season.

A high-impact player, Yassine often makes his way onto the highlights reel, whether through a flashy goal or setting one up for his teammates.

Unfortunately, a syndesmosis injury suffered against Werribee in Round 3 will see him out of action for the near future.

Saad El-Hawli (left), Mutaz El-Nour (centre) and Mohammed Yassine (right).



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