President Technical Committee ISF Orienteering
° 1966 Belgium Flanders
“Orienteering, the way of living” ….. The old slogan of a big compass manufacturing company is a very apt description of my own life-style.
I followed in the footsteps of my wife during our studies of Physical Education and Leisure Sports. She gave me my first orienteering experience; it was more than 3.5 hours in the forest for a 7 km course.
As a sports instructor during my military service in 1988, I learned the technical skills and my first steps towards becoming a “teacher of orienteering” had begun.
During my first year as a teacher Physical Education in a secondary school, the orienteering bug drove me to train a school team that would participate in the 1993 ISF World School Championship in Orienteering (WSCO) in Butgenbach, in the German Speaking Community of Belgium.
Since then I have participated in all the 13 ISF WSCO events. My best memory was in 1997 where my girl’s school team took the bronze medal in Italy with five girls, all beginners, who had learnt orienteering at school, as an extra-curricular activity after school.
In 1998, I became a member of the ISF Technical Committee (TC) Athletics, which was, at that time, also responsible for orienteering.
The next step in 2000 was to become President of the new TC Orienteering. Together with my TC colleagues, we worked hard for the development of ISF Orienteering.
From 326 young orienteers in 1997, ISF Orienteering is now the biggest ISF World School Championship in any of the individual sports. The WSCO 2013 in Portugal had more than 510 competitors taking part.
With my present job as a lecturer in outdoor and adventurous activities at my University College, and my voluntary work as a licensed event adviser of the International Orienteering Federation (IOF), I need some well-balanced time management to combine my exploration of the world with a map and compass.
Orienteering is a very demanding sport. It is a sport where you try to attain the perfect balance between running hard and the intellectual skill of map reading. This may sound simple, but you have to add that you may be running on tracks or running through rough terrain, very often in forests or in open country areas or in mountainous areas, on a course that you have never seen before.
In order to find your own way and the best and fastest route, you need many skills, which make this endurance sport a perfect school sport:
- Working independently and under pressure
- The development of spatial awareness
- Learning to respect the countryside by developing a knowledge of the environment,
- Understanding the rules of the game and respecting them
- Having a positive self-image, that is one’s own idea of oneself or a sense of one’s worth
- Learning by trial and error
- Learning to have faith in yourself
- Accepting your own limits and understanding that your own talents are all very valuable skills
This is why orienteering is one of the best school sports that fulfil the slogan “education through sport”.
One of the targets of the ISF and, especially for the TC Orienteering, is to introduce orienteering as a school sport all over the world. There are still a lot of countries in Africa, Asia and America where orienteering is not so well known.
The ISF and the IOF are working together to expand our sport through a “Motion of Understanding”. The first steps have been made, by inviting the IOF to observe the WSCO 2015 in Turkey.
I will end with another fantastic slogan, “Give me a map and I’m magic”…..
It is pure magic to run at a high speed in unknown terrain straight to “that small rock”, that is in the middle of one hundred other identical ones.
It is a real sensation to run hard and to know exactly where you are on the map!
Moreover, when you lose contact with your map, the sensation can become extraordinarily….
However, the TRUE magic is to share the smile on a child’s face, when she manages to match the map with the terrain and then manages to find the controls. I feel very sorry for those who never had the opportunity to discover this MAGIC of orienteering.