By Andrew Webster
March 3, 2017 - Sydney Morning Herald
We speak to the Back to Belmore ambassador ahead of the Bulldogs' return to their spiritual home for the season opener against the Storm on Friday.
You were on The NRL Rookie?
I made the top 28 out of 4000 participants. It was a great opportunity, but unfortunately I was injured in the first few minutes of game day. I wanted to get back on the field, but I couldn't get clearance from the doctors because my ankle was pretty messed up. It was pretty gutting. I didn't get a chance to show what I could do. It lit a fire in me - so my passion for the game hasn't died.
As a young Muslim footballer, how much do you look up to someone like Hazem El Masri?
He's a legend. It's a privilege to know him. I remember him playing back in the days, and everything he stood for is something I respect and admire.
Favourite Hazem moment?
It's hard to go past that farewell game of his. That had an electric moment. All those times when he kicked the goal from the sideline to win the game. Just his try-saving tackles here and there.
What about your experience of Belmore?
I'm 24 but I remember plenty of games there. I played two grand finals there myself. I have both on tape. The ground brings people together. It's got a lot of history in terms of rugby league itself. It's in the heart of the Canterbury-Bankstown district. Not only having the Bulldogs there, but also having the place as a multipurpose sporting facility, I feel like it binds the community together. It offers a pathway for local footballers to follow their dreams. The Bulldogs playing there is an added bonus.