GWS GIANTS host 2017 AFL Iftar Dinner

Written by Leyla Kaya.

Last night, the GWS GIANTS welcomed over 200 guests to their annual Iftar Dinner, held at the WestConnex Centre.

Hosted by the GIANTS for the fourth consecutive year, the Iftar Dinner is a special event where the community comes together to embrace cultural diversity and celebrate the Muslim breaking of the fast during Ramadan.

To commence proceedings, Richmond Tigers player and Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassador, Bachar Houli performed the call to prayer as the sun set, to mark the end of the fasting day.

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.

GWS GIANTS Community Engagement Coordinator, Emad Elkheir says that the event is designed to strengthen understandings of different cultural groups within Western Sydney.

“The Iftar Dinner is all about bringing different communities together,” said Elkheir.

“It’s a great opportunity for the AFL to further engage diverse and multicultural communities.”

The night featured cultural food stalls from around the world including dishes such as wood fired pizzas, stir-fry noodles, and paella.

The dishes were prepared by Chef Daniel, owner of the local Fork ’n’ Knife Catering. Students from Kingsgrove Park High School and Belmore Boys High School also helped in preparing and serving the food throughout the night.

The Hon. Tony Burke MP and Minister for Multiculturalism, Ray Williams were in attendance, along with Australia Post Multicultural Ambassadors, Stephen Coniglio and Aliir Aliir, and AFL players, Toby Greene and Shaun Edwards.

As well as performing the role of MC, Coniglio also facilitated a fascinating panel discussion between Aliir, Houli and Multicultural & Bachar Houli Programs Coordinator, Ahmed Saad, where the footballers discussed their diverse cultural backgrounds and how they came to be involved in the game of AFL.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims engage in self-reflection, increased prayers and give in acts of charity. The Hon. Tony Burke was delighted that the club generously opened its doors during a time, which is extremely personal for the Muslim community.

“At the moment, throughout Australia there is a debate going on about what it means to be an Australian,” said the Hon. Tony Burke.

“A whole lot of people who are observing Ramadan this month are the focus of a lot of that conversation.

“I have never known a time where a group in the community puts out the invitation to everybody else the way the Muslim community in Sydney do during Ramadan.

“To those of you who are observing, you could have kept this to yourselves, but the invitation for us to share the breaking of the fast with you is a deeply giving act.”

Minister Ray Williams also commended the AFL and the GIANTS for continuing to be at the heart of Multiculturalism in Australia.

“There is no greater way of representing cultural diversity than what you see here tonight,” said Minister Williams.

If you would like to find out more about AFL NSW/ACT’s Multicultural Programs, please contact Nickie Flambouras at

The Iftar Dinner was held as a key pillar of the GIANTS’ social inclusion program as part of GIANTS Care – a major community initiative that will see the club double its community outcomes, and further enrich the lives of people in Western Sydney. Click here to find out more