ACU Future in Youth program, East Timor

Innovative sports-based leadership development
Future in Youth is an innovative sports-based program teaching children in one of the poorest countries of the world the skills of leadership, respect, fairness—and fun!

The intensive soccer training program, created by ACU’s Exercise Science Co-ordinators, sees East Timorese children and teenagers turn up daily - rain, hail or shine - to learn the transferable life skills of “the beautiful game”.

Established in 2010 by Dr Paul Callery and Dr Ross Smith, and now led by Anthony Whitty, the program runs in Baucau (the country’s second largest town) and is one of the many capacity-building projects ACU assists with in East Timor.

Staff and third-year Exercise Science students provide on-the-ground training and mentorship to young soccer coaches aged 16-30, who in turn train the local youth. 42 teams participate in the local competition, now referred to as Central Baucau Football Junior (CBFJ).

In 2015, the program extended into local schools, as recommended by the program’s local community leaders. More than 28 teachers and coaches, 16 schools, and more than 1,300 children take part.

As the program grows, future plans by the local steering committee include focusing on poorer sub-districts and expanding support for other sports.

What millions of Aussie kids take for granted
In Australia, afternoon sport and PE classes are almost a right rather than a privilege. And the positive role modelling and behavioural values instilled in young people through participating in sporting activities are often taken for granted here. Children in East Timor, however, have few opportunities for fun, structured activities that help them develop these skills.

The Program Co-ordinators work closely with the community in Baucau to ensure the program values are in cultural alignment.

Girl power

Another objective of the program is to involve as many female ACU students as possible, to demonstrate to East Timorese girls - who live in a highly male-oriented society - that they too can develop excellent physical skills, as well as take on active leadership roles in organisation and management. In 2015, 18 of the 42 teams in the CBFJ were all-girl teams.

Watch this inspiring video by Dean Allen-Craig to see the program in action.

This project depends on your support

The entire Future in Youth program is only made possible through the support of donors and sponsors. Your generous contribution to this program will not only ensure its continuation, but you could help expand it to other regions of East Timor.

Help grow an entire soccer league!

Your gift helps make the program possible and tangibly provides soccer boots and balls, uniforms, travel, accommodation, local employment, and training. With enough financial support, we soon hope to grow the program structure to reach even more disadvantaged communities around Baucau and employ more local staff.

Give now