Football is helping to rebuild ties between South East Asian neighbours: Timor Leste, the former Portuguese colony which won its independence from Indonesia in 1999, the neighbouring Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur, whose capital is located in the western half of Timor island, and Australia’s nearby Northern Territory, from where an international peace keeping force departed to stabilise the new nation after a United Nations-sanctioned plebiscite elected to separate from Indonesia.
Former Manchester United and England player Paul Parker will coach the Northern Territory team. Paul will also be conducting coaching clinics during his stay in Dili.
The inaugural tournament was held in Darwin in 2008. The event was considered a success, with Timor-Leste winning the final 3-0 over the Northern Territory.
The ConocoPhillips Timor Sea Cup has been secured for three years, with next year’s Cup being held in Darwin during the Arafura Games (7-14 May 2011).
In 2012 the ConocoPhillips Timor Sea Cup is likely to be held in Kupang, West Timor, the capital of Nusa Tenggara Timur province.
Australia assists Timor Leste football development
Separately, the Asian Football Confederation's Vision Asia development program is assisting the formation of Timor Leste's first national football league. Slated for April next year, it will include teams from Dili and other regions of the half-island nation.
The program is being steered by a joint venture between the AFC Vision Asia team and Football Federation of Australia as part of the Memorandum of Understanding between FFA and AFC in which Vision Asia provides assistance to FFA’s projects.
Key development events for the 2010 and 2011 program in Timor Leste include football administration, clubs and competitions, coach education, referees and AID 27.
Australia’s agreement with the Football Association of Indonesia
In January, Football Federation Australia and the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) committed to closer football ties, a raft of exchange programs and more internationals between the two countries.
Under the five-year agreement FFA will assist the PSSI in the development of coaches, players, referees, grassroots football and women’s football and host training visits for Indonesian players, coaches and officials.
A key part of the agreement will see the PSSI assist the FFA to fully integrate into South East Asian football and the ASEAN Football Federation and provide competition for Australian teams at a range of age levels and formats.
FFA and PSSI also agreed to encourage their respective national governments to consider football as a vehicle to increase cooperation at political, social, economic and environmental levels.