F ootball was introduced to Timorese People during Portuguese colonial era, many locals and Portuguese officials played amateur football at the time. When the colonial rule ended, Indonesia invaded this island and occupied for 24 years. Timorese People then gained independence after fighting against Jakarta-led forces. Independence was gained leading through a referendum in 1999, in which most Timorese voted to reject integration into the Republic of Indonesia. Timorese People set themselves free after living with oppressors and colonialists for many decades. Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent nation on 20 May 2002.
The Timorese Football Federation was soon founded in 2002 – officially named Federação Futebol de Timor-Leste (FFTL). The Timorese Football Federation was also accepted as an associate member of AFC since 2002. Timor-Leste made its first debut in March 2003 when played in the qualifying campaign for the 2004 AFC Asian Cup in China. Made the first-ever football history as a newborn nation, it was no surprise that East Timor had to experience defeats against Sri Lanka and Chinese Taipei.
Timor-Leste entered the regional competition as an invited member for the first time in 2004 when debuted in the ASEAN Football Federation Championship, previously known as Tiger Cup. Timor-Leste finished in last place, indicating that it had a long way to go before it could compete even on the regional stage. In the qualifying round of the 2007 AFF Championship, Timor-Leste had again no success and experienced four heavy losses, including defeated decisively by the Philippines. But Timor-Leste surprisingly drew against Cambodia in the third qualifying round for 2008 AFF Championship.
Timor-Leste made its first victory on 5 October 2012, winning the first international match 5-1 against Cambodia. On 9 October 2012, the team also won another match against Laos at the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifier. But Timor-Leste made its first outstanding history in regional tournaments by winning the title of Champion in the Sultan Hasanal Bolkiah Trophy 2018. Timor-Leste was most ambitious to win the title of AFF in 2021. This great will did not happen but finally shared the title of third place with Laos, in the AFF Championship 2021.
In 2020 FFTL launched first football female competition - Liga Feto and transformed Liga Futebol Amadora into Liga Futebol Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste always dreams of the champion in the regional stage and will make it happen through its gradual football development.