SOCCER-mad Arash Samii will be waving the Bahraini flag when the world-class team jets into Ballarat in December.
But not before supporting his hometown team of Iran.
“For the game between Bahrain and Iran I will be definitely supporting Iran, no doubt about that,” he said.
Mr Samii is a member of Ballarat’s Iranian community, but does have ties to the neighbouring Middle Eastern country.
“I have never been to Bahrain, but I have a good, close friend in Bahrain and he used to study in Ballarat,” he said.
“He studied in Ballarat for about two-and-a-half years and really liked the place.”
When he’s not working as the City of Ballarat’s Multicultural Ambassador, Mr Samii also likes to play soccer.
“I’m not involved in any teams at the moment, but I used to referee soccer matches at the university,” he said.
Mr Samii was very supportive of plans to accommodate the Bahrain soccer team in Ballarat.
“It is going to be great, I will definitely come down and watch a match,” he said.
“The AFC Asian Cup is the biggest soccer event happening after the World Cup at the moment.”
Back the Bid Ballarat chair Duncan Smith, who was involved in bringing the Bahrain team to Ballarat, said he was excited by the news.
“This is massive. It is the biggest event in Ballarat since the 1956 Olympics,” he said.
Mr Smith has spent two years working towards attracting a world-class soccer team to the region.
“It will put Ballarat and Creswick on the international stage,” he said.
Mr Smith said the Bahrain team and its entourage were expected to arrive in Ballarat on December 22.
They will reside at Novotel Forest Resort in Creswick and train at the new Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility.
“There really weren’t many other (hotel) choices in Ballarat. The hotel needed to be at least a 4.5 star level hotel,” Mr Smith said.
“(The Creswick resort) is good, its secluded. There is a golf course and the accommodation is first class.”
Mr Smith said the team would leave Ballarat on January 7 ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in Melbourne on January 9.
“We are thrilled to have them here over the Christmas period, which will be fantastic for Ballarat,” he said.