An exciting and inspirational initiative was undertaken by the School of Exercise Science in Baucau, Timor Leste in partnership with ACU’s Institute for Advancing Community Engagement (IACE). The School and IACE have worked closely with the Salesian Parish in the community of Baucau, 120 kilometers east of Dili, the capital of Timor Leste to engage in a community capacity building program. The project was under the leadership of Dr Paul Callery (St Patrick’s campus) and Courtenay Peters (IACE, Strathfield Campus) together with six Exercise Science students who represented ACU magnificently: Annabel Guthrie, Samantha Lawrence, Nathan McLean from Melbourne and Louisa Bavaro, Tristan Ross and Matt Pink from Sydney.
In July 2010, a Coach Education program was conducted over four days and volunteer coaches (local volunteers, teenagers, parents and other interested parties) then assisted in the conduct of a four week sport education, participation program for secondary school aged children. The vehicle to engage youth and to promote practices to improve the health, wellbeing and life skills within the community. The outcomes were outstanding on participation numbers alone with 42 volunteer coaches undertaking the coach education program who then asproject used sport as asisted TeamACU to implement the four-week sport education program in which over 500 children participated.
In July 2011 and building on the above initiative, the School of Exercise Science, again with the support of IACE and in partnership with the Salesian Parish in Baucau, conducted a three-day Coach Education program in Baucau. On this occasion, the program was supported by the Timor Leste Football Federation (TLFF), the Baucau Football Association (AFB) and the Football Federation of Australia (FFA). The program, conducted by Dr Paul Callery, Ms Sandy Allen-Craig and Mr Matthew Pink from the School of Exercise Science, aimed to build on the 2010 course enthusiasm and provided an introduction to coaching, equivalent to an Australian Level 0 coaching accreditation program. The content provided foundation skills in coaching Football and the application of these skills in practice and games. Eighteen volunteer coaches participated in the 2011 program, eight of whom had been participants in the 2010 Coach Education program.
On leaving Baucau, a commitment was made to Dr Callery by officials from Timor Leste Football Federation (TLFF) and the Baucau Football Association (AFB) that they would encourage and continue to support the volunteer coaches to conduct regular training/coaching sessions with their teams as well as endeavouring to recruit more teams. TeamACU will return to Baucau to conduct another participation program culminating with a Gala Games Day football competition.
This program has complemented and extended the work of ACU in the Baucau community. It reached out not only to those teenagers who were engaged in the education system through the Salesian schools but aimed at teenagers who were disengaged from education and their community. The program also aimed to meet the expectations of the Football Federation of Australia which has been engaged by the East Timor government to assist the East Timor Football Federation in the re-structure and development of the sport. The School of Exercise Science is most grateful to support provided by the Australian Sports Commission, Catholic Education Office, Nylec Products, Director of Identity & Mission Steve Lawrence, and Vice Chancellor Greg Craven.