PhD candidate kicks goals for kids with Indonesian AFL program

David Schmidtke is a force to be reckoned with. The Griffith University PhD candidate is on track to create multilevel impact through sport after delivering an AFL program to more than 300 students across Bali, Indonesia, in just one week through his not-for-profit company, Via Sport.

David, along with Rory Brown (University of Queensland),Alexander Horton and Nick Parry-Jones (University of Melbourne), founded Via Sport in September 2017. A modern take on the traditional not-for-profit, Via Sport was officially launched on 9 January 2018 with its flagship AFL program in Bali.

For David, the need for an inclusive sports program in Indonesia was apparent after his two-month stint in Bulukumba, as part of DFAT’s Australian Indonesian Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP).

“We noticed that the boys were playing soccer in the morning and afternoons in the village; however, we rarely saw girls playing sport,” explains David.

“As a result, we introduced AFL 9s, a sport with no social context in Indonesia; that is, it wasn’t perceived as being a boys’ sport. AFL 9s is also a sport that could be played on existing infrastructure such as soccer fields.”

Off the back of a successful pilot in Bulukumba, and another in Mumbai, India, David and his co-founders received a grant from the Australia-Indonesia Institute to launch Via Sport’s AFL 9s program in Bali.

But, unlike the traditional not-for-profit business model, Via Sport is not purely reliant on donations and grants. “While Via Sport still applies for grants and takes donations, we also generate revenue through offering accommodation packages to local and international volunteers, and through strategic sponsorships and partnerships,” says David.

“Our goal is to be completely self-sustained through generating our own revenue and eventually only use grants and donations to scale our operations. In that sense we are moving towards a social enterprise model.”

Via Sport board member and Griffith Research FellowDr Abi Badejo praised company’s evidence-based approach to social innovation in Indonesia.

“Program evaluation plays an important role in social innovation. With for-profit businesses, if you are making a profit then you are successful. However, with a social business, which aims for knowledge, attitude and behaviour change, a more nuanced approach to evaluation is critical,” said Dr Badejo, who currently leads the formal evaluation of Via Sport’s AFL program in Bali.

“Our current evaluation looks at measuring the effectiveness of the program in connecting people and institutions, achieving youth and women’s empowerment through sport development in schools, and showcasing the very best of what Australia has to offer,” she said.

“These measurements align directly with the objectives of DFAT’s 2015-18 Sports Diplomacy Strategy.”

David will return to Bali in February for the official opening of the Via Sport Volunteer House, where there is a standing invitation for anyone looking for hands-on opportunity to create an impact through sport in Indonesia.

See Via Sport’s website for more information on other ways you can support the organisation’s work.