Meet the Match
A Timorese Sports Leader Trains a New Generation
Virginia is master facilitator for SportImpact and executive director of the Sport for Life project in Timor-Leste, leading a nationwide movement of young volunteers from local municipalities, training them in facilitation skills, and coaching them to replicate the project in their communities. She seeks to create a new generation of female sports leaders in Timor-Leste.
Growing up in a traditional Timorese environment, Virginia didn’t have much exposure to sports. While the boys played outside, she was expected to stay inside the home and assist her mother with domestic duties. Whenever she wasn’t looking, she’d sneak out to play in the streets. After finishing secondary school, Virginia took courses in English, Portuguese, computer studies and public management at a local NGO, and soon thereafter founded the Grace Center, where she offers language instruction to children and their parents.
Virginia began working with SportImpact, a business-minded social enterprise that works with national sports entities in development, consulting, training, and event management, where she took over its Sport for Life project. Around the same time, she also founded Zumba Dili, her own initiative to empower women through exercise in 2015. Virginia’s classes have grown to more than 25 women today. Her many achievements led her to be named Timor-Leste’s representative at the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, as well as an Asian youth representative for the UNESCO General Conference 38th session.
In a country where female voices and expression still encounter suppression, Virginia is committed to providing a safe space for women to connect, learn, and develop leadership skills that will create a culture shift toward gender equality. By participating in the GSMP, she has learned vital sports marketing and networking skills, as well as how to engage with stakeholders to sustain and expand her projects.
Virginia is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in economics from Joao Saldanha University. In her free time, she enjoys nature, Zumba, and spending time with her family.