The Future in Youth Sports Program, East Timor: Impacts on Youth, Coaches and Community
Katherine Raw is a researcher with Australian Catholic University's Institute for Advancing Community Engagement and school of Exercise Science. Her research interests include sport for development, community engagement, monitoring and evaluation, as well as women in developing counties. Over the last 18 months her primary focus has been on ACU's community engagement programs in Timor-Leste that aim to address capacity building through sport, education and nursing.
Often grouped together under the label of 'sport for development' (SFD), sport programs within developing nations are thought to have the potential to decrease the impacts of poverty and social isolation, as well as foster health and social networks.
The specific SFD project that this study focused on was the Future in Youth (FIY) football (soccer) program that is conducted by Australian Catholic University annually. The key objectives of the FIY program that this study investigated were: improving the health, well-being, life skills and capacity of the community, as well as achieving local program sustainability.
Community leaders and coaches (n=24) involved with the 2013 FIY program shared their views and opinions regarding the program and its impacts. Qualitative data was gathered through semi-structured interviews and focus groups at the end of the three-week FIY program, and again three months later to see if the program was achieving its’ objectives.
The three main outcomes that appeared to benefit most in association with the FIY program were the health, well-being and life skills of youth, coaches and the broader community. To an extent, community capacity was developed through football and coaching skills. The findings regarding program sustainability were mixed. However, there were some individuals who indicated their willingness to take more responsibility to ensure the program would be sustained in the future. The results of this study will be used to help guide the development of the FIY program and thereby encourage better quality outcomes, as well as assist future SFD programs.