Future in Youth (FIY) is an innovative sports-based program teaching East Timorese young people about leadership, respect, fairness, and fun. Since the launch of FIY in 2010, children and teenagers have been turning up rain, hail or shine to learn ‘the beautiful game’ of soccer, as well as gaining some important life skills along the way. Over the past seven years the program has expanded rapidly, growing from strength to strength, and it’s now reaching more young people than ever before.
Established by ACU exercise scientists Dr Paul Callery and Dr Ross Smith, and now led by ACU lecturer Anthony Whitty, the FIY program runs in Baucau (East Timor’s second largest town) and is one of the many capacity-building projects we as a university assist with.
Staff and third-year exercise science students provide on-the-ground training and mentorship to young soccer coaches aged 16 to 30, who in turn train the local youth. Currently there are 42 teams participating in the competition known as the Central Baucau Football Junior (CBFJ).
In 2015, FIY expanded into East Timorese schools, as recommended by the program’s local community leaders. More than 28 teachers and coaches and over 1,300 children from 16 schools took part in the progam.
As FIY grew, a steering committee was established to strategise future plans, which included focusing on East Timor’s poorer sub-districts and growing support for other sports beyond soccer.
In 2016, FIY continued developing strong relationships in the Baucau community and increased the skills and capacity of local community members, especially in the areas of sports coaching, PE teaching in primary schools and administration. Importantly, FIY continued to transition from ACU staff and students managing the program to the local people of Baucau taking the lead and becoming active participants.
In 2016, the steering committee that was established in 2015 met four times. The committee includes representatives from the church, the district administrator’s office, the sub-district administrator’s office, representatives from the Ministry of Education in Baucau, local NGOs, local coaches and teachers, ACU, and Ponte Leste (the local youth centre that runs the program in Baucau). In 2016, it was decided to increase the PE curriculum delivery of the program and to include more schools, especially in East Timor’s poorer sub-district areas.
As a result, the FIY program is now responsible for assisting the people of Baucau coordinate a community-led after-school soccer program for more than 1000 children, as well as assisting the schools and community in delivering specific PE curriculum in Baucau’s primary schools. Prior to this, PE lessons were mainly theoretical due to the lack of equipment, expertise and facilities.
The FIY program has provided Baucau schools with equipment and specific PE teacher education, and it has enabled all schools in the community to have better access to sporting facilities. This has helped us increase our reach within the community and build upon the model of capacity-building, sustainable programs.
In 2016, FIY worked with 48 teachers and coaches, 22 schools and more than 1,500 children, with training sessions taking place in Bairos.
To increase the availability of international opportunities for ACU students, our School of Exercise Science works closely with other Faculty of Health Sciences schools to help interested students deliver a range of programs in East Timor. FIY has conducted research that demonstrates the program significantly increases ACU students’ capacities in the areas of cultural diversity, openness, adaptability, communication and the ability to reflect on one’s own practice.
The lessons we gathered from implementing the FIY program in East Timor led to the School of Exercise Science delivering six domestic-based sport-for-development programs for disengaged refugee youth in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. This has enabled more ACU staff and students to make a positive impact on communities and young people.
In 2017, FIY sent three staff and 10 students from the School of Exercise Science to East Timor to work with 75 teachers and approximately 4,000 children in 25 schools. FIY is now working with the Ministry of Education in East Timor to embed the teacher training program into their national curriculum for primary school sports teaching. By providing teacher training and a manual presented in their national language, FIY has been able to assist the local people with training and equipment that is specific to their student numbers and facilities.
Watch this inspiring video by Dean Allen-Craig to see the program in action.
This project depends on your support
The entire FIY 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 into other regions of East Timor.
Help grow an entire soccer league!
Your gift helps make the program possible and provides soccer boots and balls, uniforms, travel, accommodation, local employment, and training. With enough financial support, we hope to grow the program to reach even more disadvantaged communities around Baucau and employ additional local staff.