Despite some soggy conditions to start the day, the GIANTS, in conjunction with the Bachar Houli Foundation, welcomed close to 200 guests to their annual Iftar dinner at GIANTS HQ in Sydney Olympic Park on Thursday night.

Hosted by the GIANTS for the seventh year, the Iftar dinner is an opportunity to bring the community together to embrace cultural diversity and celebrate the breaking of the fast during Ramadan.

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Iftar with the GIANTS

The GIANTS and Bachar Houli Foundation celebrated their seventh annual Iftar dinner on Thursday night.

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After hearing from key guests from the Western Sydney community and Unity College students, dormer Richmond player and Bachar Houli Foundation founder Bachar Houli performed the call to prayer as the sun set, to mark the end of the fasting day.

The GIANTS' own John Quinn was also awarded the Bachar Houli Foundation’s NSW Award for his work in the community.

GIANTS Head of Community Ali Faraj was pleased to see so many people coming together again after what has been a tough 12 months for everyone.

“There are all people from all walks of life here. We come here to educate each other and to create connection, and for us at the GIANTS we’re very blessed to be partners with the Bachar Houli Foundation," he said.

“This is what diversity and inclusion is all about. Food brings people together and I say it all the time - it’s either sport or food and as we could see tonight there’s so many people here trying new foods, they’re talking to each other and asking questions, they’re making new friends and you can see the smiles on everyone’s faces."

Houli echoed Faraj’s comments about the evening.  

“This event in Sydney is probably one of the best days of the year as far as Iftar dinners go if I’m being honest,” Houli said.

Houli also explained Ramadan to those in attendance through a football metaphor, to assist in their understanding the month of self-renewal.

He described Ramadan as the football pre-season where people of the Muslim faith refocus, set personal goals and prepare for the season ahead – or in this case, the year ahead.

“Iftar means ‘break of fast’. There’s a specific time of the day that we start our fasting and then break it which is dawn until dusk. It’s the time when call of prayer is called and then we get to go hard and enjoy these delicious meals,” he added.

The Hon. Mark Joseph Coure, MP, Minister for Multiculturalism and Minister for Seniors and Mr Jihad DIB, MP were in attendance, along with Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis, City of Paramatta and Deputy Mayor Clr Bilal El-Hayek, City of Bankstown who has been busy assisting with the GIANTS Hand initiative over the past few weeks through this work with PCYC.

The Hon. Mark Joseph Coure, MP commended the GIANTS for opening their doors to the community and continuing to lead the way for diversity and inclusion.

“The GIANTS bring a lot to the community when it comes to multiculturalism," he said.

“We are one of the most multicultural places in the world and what the GIANTS are doing has many people from many cultures here tonight celebrating and acknowledging that multicultural story."

GIANTS players Haneen Zreika, Toby Greene and Stephen Coniglio were also in attendance and joined by former NRL star Sonny Bill Williams to celebrate the festivities.

“Tonight’s just been exceptional,” Coniglio said.

“Over the last couple of years with COVID these events haven’t been so frequent, but these dinners are always an amazing celebration.

“The food was amazing as always and thank you to everyone that had a hand in making tonight such a special night."