Gold Coast SUNS young gun, Adam Saad, has thrilled crowds and commentators in his inaugural AFL season.
He won a rising star nomination in the SUN’s win over Brisbane Lions and, while most rookies would be over the moon with this, Saad was more excited about registering his first win in a SUN’s guernsey.
As a youngster he got into footy like most other Aussies, “through a mate”.
His road to the AFL began in 2002 with the Coburg Cougars and after brief stint with the Calder Cannons in the TAC cup, Saad returned home to Coburg to play in the VFL.
This is where he faced the rejection that can come with professional sport.
Saad was nominated for the AFL draft twice and was rejected.
In a masterstroke move, his coach at Coburg, Peter German, shifted Saad from playing as a small forward to a rebounding defensive player.
The change of position forced recruiters to notice his precise ball use and his innate ability to evade opponents.
It worked. The Gold Coast SUNS drafted him in the 2014 Rookie Draft at pick 25.
His football ability is not the only thing that sets him apart from other recruits.
Adam is a devout Muslim and has looked to his childhood hero Bachar Houli to help him when dealing with footy and faith.
“It’s been a little tough being away from family, I’m trying to balance it all, I’ve been getting advice of Bashar to see how he goes about it,” he said.
He is only one of three practicing Muslims in the AFL and says the SUNS have been fully supportive of his faith.
“The club have set apart a prayer room for me and whenever it’s time to pray or at the end of training I’ll wash up and go pray,” he said.
He is extremely keen to get involved in the Gold Coast community and makes it a priority to help grow the game through connecting with juniors.
The SUNS players often get the chance to visit local schools and along the way he had the opportunity to visit a local Islamic school.
“It’s good for every player to come out and connect with these kids and show them what footy it’s all about,” he said.
“I think this is extra special for me because this is an Islamic School as well, me being a Muslim it’s great getting to connect with the young Islamic kids.”
Adam has been dedicated to his footy and faith throughout his life and his ability to bounce back from early set-backs are the barometer of this young man.
He has stayed true to himself while still achieving his dreams and is well on the way to being a great footballer, role model and ambassador for the game.
By Mitchell Van Homrigh