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.
The FIY program was established by former ACU exercise scientists Dr Paul Callery and Dr Ross Smith, and it is now led by our Head of Learning, Teaching and Professional Experience of Exercise Science, Dr Anthony Whitty. The 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 program.
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 2017, FIY sent six staff and 42 students from the School of Exercise Science to East Timor to work with 50 teachers and approximately 4,000 children from 50 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.