Developing future soccer stars

Timor-Leste’s Baucau district recently held its first ever junior soccer league finals thanks to the efforts of ACU’s Future in Youth (FIY) community engagement program.

The FIY program is an innovative community program that engages children and youth in Baucau through sport and ACU’s Anthony Whitty (pictured) was on hand to watch all the matches all unfold.

“For the first time they had their own jerseys with their school name on the back in in colours that each school chose themselves,” said Anthony, a School of Exercise Science Lecturer who has been involved with FIY for the past four years.

“FIY is not just about soccer. Life skills of fairness, equity and respect that can transfer off-field to the broader community are also promoted,” he said.

“It’s a great experience for ACU staff and students. We are really engaging with the local community and making a difference.”

Before the finals could happen, ACU staff and students trained local coaches and prepare teams.

The FIY began as a program in 2010 to address violent youth gangs on local streets, and helped the formation of a local league featuring 1200 young people. Timor has a national team but there is no national league and no other junior league competitions.

“This competition will play a major role in helping developing junior football, which can really help young people in the community,” Anthony said.

“But before there is a league, there needs to be coaches and we are training local sports teachers and coaches how to become better equipped especially when dealing with such large numbers of children.”

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