Sonny Bill Williams and his backers have spent between $3 million and $4 million on his dream to build a mosque and community centre in Hurstville, and the cross-code star has vowed to keep fighting after the local council knocked back the project. The project is as important to him as his sporting career.
Williams has talked about his post-sport plan and, at the centre of it, is a dream to create an area for Islamic prayer, plus building a gym and other community-friendly facilities, chiefly for the area’s youth. He also wants to establish a charity or foundation to help those in need.
Williams opened up on his battle with the local council and his financial losses as he prepares for his fight with Barry Hall on March 23.
“I’m fortunate that my football career and my boxing has allowed me to be in a position where I can hopefully make a difference to people,” Williams said. “The mosque has been in the works for maybe two or three years; we bought the land, we put together plans, architects, all of this stuff.
“There is about 10 of us involved and I think we’ve spent $3 million or $4 million all in, and it was all ready to go, we just needed council approval. And, devastatingly, after three years of going back and forth, it was knocked back.
“It’s been a bitter pill. I was looking at starting my charity out of there, a non-profit organisation. It was also a place where youth can come to use a gym, play sport, so it was pretty devastating.”