Richmond veteran Bachar Houli. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL is delighted to announce Bachar Houli of the Richmond Football Club as the winner of the 2020 Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award.

Houli has been recognised for his dedication and commitment to community work and as a driving force for inclusiveness and social cohesion through his role with the Bachar Houli Foundation.


Houli is regarded as a community leader and role model through the work of the Bachar Houli Foundation. The Foundation is focused on engaging young Muslims in football through a series of community engagement and pathway programs for both male and females in partnership with the AFL and Richmond Football Club. 

The Bachar Houli Foundation has engaged over 30,000 young people and delivers nine unique national programs annually including the Bachar Houli Academies, Ramadan dinners, Bachar Houli Cup and employment program.

Like most Victorians, the 2020 Bushfires had a strong impact on Houli and in January, he volunteered his personal time to visit victims in Gippsland through local charity Human Appeal. Houli worked with local agencies, cooking and distributing meals to frontline workers, taking photographs with locals and the 2019 Premiership Cup, and distributing merchandise he personally collected. Houli made two visits to bushfire affected areas and supported the Human Appeal and My Centre fundraising events through social media promotion and event speaking engagements.

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said the award continues to honour the legacy that Jim Stynes left among the community and is proud of what Houli has achieved and contributed to the community away from the football field.

"Bachar’s contribution to the community will continue to have an impact long after he retires from the AFL and it is heartening to hear of the number of lives he has touched over his 14 years in the game," Mr McLachlan said.

"He is an incredible role model and his relentless drive to supporting his community should be commended and applauded. This award is much deserved recognition for Bachar’s commitment and dedication over his career."

Richmond Chief Executive Brendan Gale praised Houli’s leadership in growing the Bachar Houli Foundation and his investment in the growth of future leaders of the Islamic community.

"Bachar has spent a good part of his fourteen-year AFL career serving the community. His passion and leadership in this space over a long period is unparalleled," said Gale. 

"Our club is incredibly proud of the community work Bachar does. He is an extraordinary person that is committed to improving and shaping the lives of the next generation of Islamic youth.

"Football is a wonderful vehicle to engage youth, but it takes an authentic commitment to maximise the outcomes, and we see that with Bachar every day. We are lucky to call him one of our own and the work he does to build a more harmonious and cohesive community is incredibly important." 

Proudly supported by Telstra, the AFL and the Jim Stynes Foundation, Houli will receive $40,000 which will be donated to the charity or community program of his choice. 

The award has become the pinnacle of recognition of philanthropic achievements within the AFL community, named in honour of the late former Melbourne Football Club President and player Jim Stynes.  

Runners-up Tayla Harris (Carlton Football Club), Lauren Spark (Western Bulldogs Football Club) and Justin Westhoff (Port Adelaide Football Club) were also acknowledged and praised for their commitment to the community.

Past winners include GWS' Stephen Coniglio (2019), Melbourne's Neville Jetta (2018), Port Adelaide's Jack Hombsch (2017), Geelong's Jimmy Bartel (2016), Carlton's Dennis Armfield (2015), West Coast's Beau Waters (2014), Gold Coast's Zac Smith (2013) and Richmond's Daniel Jackson (2012).

Nominations for the award are formed from AFL Clubs and the AFL Players Association before the judging panel selected the final four finalists.

Proudly supported by Telstra the AFL and the Jim Stynes Foundation, the winner will receive $40,000 to be donated to the charity or community program of their choice.

About the Jim Stynes Foundation

The Jim Stynes Foundation (JSF) perpetuates the work of the late Jim Stynes. Like Jim, the Foundation supports disadvantaged youth through his passion for sport, his allies and his charitable inceptions.

Public in nature, the Jim Stynes Foundation is a Public Ancillary Fund (PuAF) that distributes funds to worthy and specifically chosen registered charities. As a PuAF the public are invited to and can contribute to the Foundation. All contributions are then distributed to registered charities, as determined by the Foundation’s board.

The 2020 Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award selection panel includes:
Sam Ludbey-Stynes – Jim Stynes Foundation
Luke Darcy – Network Seven & Triple M
Neil Mitchell – 3AW
Kim Williams – AFL Commissioner
Andrew Dillon – AFL General Counsel/General Manager Game Development
Sarah Fair – AFL General Manager - People
Jude Donnelly – AFL, Head of Government Relations & Corporate Social Responsibility
Brett Murphy – AFL PA Representative