Richmond’s VFL team is reaping the rewards of its strong Bachar Houli Foundation connections, with youngsters Mutaz El Nour and Mohammed Yassine, and assistant coach Mohammed Kaakour making waves at the Swinburne Centre.
Yassine is an excellent story of persistence, having spent 2022 with the Club in a train-on player capacity before earning a list spot this year. The small forward, who also had impressive performances in last year’s Unity Cup and Senior Boys Academy, then forced his way into side for a Round 2 debut, gathering nine disposals and two tackles against Coburg.
Kaakour, has also played a strong part in the Tigers’ undefeated start to the VFL season, with the Bachar Houli Academy’s Head Coach, winning praise from Richmond VFL skipper Lachie Street.
“He’s been a good presence around the club and a perfect addition to the coaching panel,” Street said. “As a coach, he has got a level head and brought a lot of good ideas, good energy, and knowledge to the Club.”
Kaakour joined Richmond in an official capacity late last year after volunteering with the Foundation for many years. He brings nine years of coaching experience to the VFL side, most recently coaching Westmeadows to the finals in 2022.
Alongside Kaakour, the Foundation and Richmond welcomed exciting new talent El Nour at the end of 2022, joining from the Northern Bullants after missing out at last year’s mid-season, national and rookie drafts. El Nour won the medal for the best on ground in a Unity Cup match and now works full-time as a Program Officer at the Foundation while playing with the Tigers VFL side.
As a Muslim with Sudanese heritage, El Nour looks up to other players with similar backgrounds and attributes much of his success to his involvement in the Bachar Houli Foundation Elite Performance Academy. “It inspires me seeing heaps more Sudanese players in the AFL these days…if they can make it, why can’t I?” he said. “Being a part of the Academy helped me in many different ways, not just as a footballer but also as a person.
“It’s a very rewarding job, working with the wider Islamic Community out here in Australia and helping them feel that same belonging.”
El Nour has made a steady start to his Richmond career and him being joined on the field by fellow Bachar Houli Academy graduate Mo Yassine on the weekend is just the beginning of a special bond between Richmond and the Foundation- and more broadly- The VFL competition and young Islamic talent.