The 2023 Senior Boys Academy marked yet another successful program for the Bachar Houli Foundation (BHF).
The talent-based academy aims to provide high-performance training, education, and mentoring for Muslim footballers aged between fifteen to eighteen across Australia, with a seven-day residential program being the mainstay. In addition to enhancing the high-performance capabilities of participants, the Senior Boys Academy also places a strong emphasis on developing leadership and growing Islamic identity.
All twenty-seven participants of this year’s academy benefitted from a range of team-building exercises, and workshops led by BHF staff and mentors throughout the seven-day program. Coupled with the guidance and mentorship of former AFL footballers Bachar Houli and Ahmed Saad, participants made great strides towards their development in leadership and Islamic identity, as well as their footballing ability in this year’s Senior Boys Academy.
Most notably, senior participants had the unforgettable opportunity to set foot on the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and play alongside each other, coming out victorious against the Alex Rance Academy just one day after Collingwood’s victory over the Lions in the 2023 AFL Grand Final.
For senior participants, qualities such as resilience and discipline are highly relevant within this program, but for Jalal Aboueid – a familiar face in BHF Academies – it was all about brotherhood, a key pillar of the Senior Boys Academy.
He engaged in every session attentively with his fellow participants throughout the seven-day program, and after his involvement in this year’s Senior Boys Academy, the importance of brotherhood is not lost on Jalal.
“Being in these programs opened my eyes to how important brotherhood was, because it shows you many things like how beneficial having a good support base and community around you could be, and I think that this camp, last year, and all the other camps really showed that.”
Earning his place into the academy as a talented footballer this year, as well as in previous years, Jalal did not let the opportunity for personal development in leadership and Islamic identity go to waste, as he regularly sought mentoring from Bachar Houli and Ahmed Saad throughout the seven days.
“I think from day one the staff did really well in holding high standards, so from the get-go, I really tried to keep getting better and better as the years went on, and so I don’t think they left anything in me, other than to strive for the best.”
The Bachar Houli Medal has been a staple of the Senior Boys Academy since its beginning and is designed to recognize the participant who most displays outstanding leadership qualities. The eventual recipient is voted by their peers on the academy’s final day.
Jalal distinctly remembers finishing runners-up in the Bachar Houli Medallist voting on the final day of the 2022 Senior Boys Academy. It was on Day One of this year’s academy that Bachar Houli heard a motivated Jalal explain his plan, and desire to win the Medal. To Jalal’s credit, he did exactly that.
On the final day of the 2023 Senior Boys Academy, Jalal was announced as the recipient of the Bachar Houli Medal – a testament to the outstanding leadership qualities he displayed throughout the duration of the academy, as voted by his fellow participants.
“It was one of my goals coming into the camp. I know speaking to Bachar, he asked me what I wanted to do different from last year, and I think coming runners-up really gave me motivation to get around the boys, be a good person, and enjoy the opportunity that we were given.”
Jalal left no stone unturned in pushing himself to win the Medal, eagerly applying himself to every session and workshop with the aim of growing in his leadership, Islamic identity, and footballing ability.
“It puts a smile on my face, and it gives me a lot of pride to hear that (I am a Bachar Houli Medallist), and from now I just want to maintain that and…keep getting better with my relationships around the boys, and to meet new boys the same way I did this year.”
Throughout his involvement with the BHF Academies in previous years, and now as a Bachar Houli Medallist, Jalal pinpoints a significant portion of his personal development down to goal setting.
“I think the main important one for me was to write our goals down, because when you look at the goal, you give yourself steps on what you need to do to get to where you want to be, and I think seeing the goal really helped me with…(getting to where I am) today.”
The twenty-seven participants of the 2023 Senior Boys Academy, including Jalal, will eagerly anticipate their potential selection into this year’s Elite Performance Academy.
The Elite Performance Academy involves a twelve-month program that focuses on developing the twelve most talented participants as footballers and enhancing their sense of identity as young Australian Muslims.
As part of the Elite Performance Academy, the twelve participants – selected by BHF Mentors – will be involved in an eight-day camp in Abu Dhabi and Dubai later this year, which is designed to deepen the participants’ leadership skills, cultural awareness, and life skills, as well as their footballing ability.