How much do we value orienteering?
Well here we are again, facing the spectre of a multi week lockdown, which a month ago was hard to imagine! My family and I were in Wanaka when the lockdown happened, primed for what promised to be one of the best powder skiing days of the season. Instead of adventures on the slopes, our adventure turned into an extended road trip, connecting rental cars, flights and shuttles on a very convoluted journey to get home! Whilst not the holiday we had anticipated, we adapted, and like everyone else, have subsequently focused on doing fun things closer to home.
Whilst it is disheartening on one level to be back in this situation, on another level we have reason to feel positive. Orienteering has come a long way over the past 18 months and proven to be incredibly adaptable and resilient to the disruption that the pandemic has created. The difference between March last year and now, is we have the processes and know-how for running events and activities under different lockdown conditions. The sport has showed it can innovate and adapt, with the real strength of the sport being the many capable and smart people who have been able to figure out new ways of doing things.
This ability to think, problem solve, and adapt, is critical as we look forwards. There remains a lot of uncertainty, particularly around how our borders will be managed, and the ability of people to travel in and out of NZ. Jan Harrison, Jenni Adams and the rest of the Oceania and support events organising team deserve a special shout out for the work they are doing, dealing with the different ways things could pan out for the Oceania championships. Despite the uncertainty, we are hopeful that our Australian friends from across the ditch will be able to travel and join us for what is promising to be a fantastic carnival of orienteering stretching from Nelson/Marlborough to Dunedin in January.
The question of how we can best support clubs organising major events is an important one. Certainly this is an area we have been working on at ONZ and will continue to do so; looking for ways we can assist clubs and make things easier for these events to happen. However support from individuals is also important, and there are two ways I think this can be demonstrated best in the current situation. Firstly, entering! There is nothing more satisfying as an event organiser to see healthy numbers entered well ahead of the deadline date. It is motivating and uplifting, and for other competitors, it can prompt them to enter too (triggering the FOMO response!).
The second way we can support major events going forwards is by getting vaccinated. I appreciate this is a topic which different people will have their own views on, however it is clear that things such as mass events, and travel, will be able to happen much more easily, and safely, if the bulk of people are vaccinated. My wife and I have had our shots and it is great to know we will have some protection from Covid going forwards, as well as minimise the chance of it spreading. I know many other orienteers are also sorted with vaccinations, and we encourage those of you who are eligible and yet to do it, to get it done. This will really help when it comes to attending major events with larger numbers of participants in the future. And speaking of major events, the next one for my club (OBOP) is the Northern Regional Champs at labour weekend which we are co-hosting with Taupo. Hopefully things will be settled down and sufficiently opened up by then to travel, and we look forward to seeing many of you there.
I hope this sees all of you safe and well in your bubbles, wherever you are.
Peter Swanson | Chairperson of ONZ Council
027 302 4863