Leading change at CMOC 
By Christo Peters - Mon 25 Mar 2024 8:40pm
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Counties Manukau Orienteering Club (CMOC) is growing a club culture focussing on continual exploration and experimentation with new ideas. This approach has resulted in continually improved performance and outcomes for the communities we serve.

Youth-led growth & participation 
.At 14 years old Tim Bacchus joined CMOC’s Executive Committee to extend the age range to 72 years across the team. Tim had been key in transitioning the club to be more youth-led, and became NZ’s youngest ever executive member with a feature in the local newspaper. Tim took on the responsibility of leading an innovative research project looking at CMOC’s schools programme, to identifying the factors that created success, predictive modelling of regional schools to find more orienteering potential, and prioritising list of schools to focus on growing participation.

Participation numbers & key relationships  
We are using participation numbers (people who actually turn up to events) to gain a better measure of our performance, especially as “ghost members” do not benefit an organisation’s experience. As a result of this work, a steadily increasing 700+ students have enrolled in our Eastern Zone Schools Orienteering Sprint Series (EZ-SOSS), amounting to 3,700 entries across the programme with 8 host schools.
Club sustainability
We have designed and implemented a club sustainability strategy, and identified the risks of an ageing leadership and volunteer base. Last year we foresaw an increased risk to our most successful Sprint Series with the imminent retirement of key people, so we worked throughout the year to broaden skill sets and develop our volunteers with both formal and informal training across the club. 

One of the key successes that have driven our increase in volunteers (particularly youth) has been finding pathways for our team to grow in administration, technical, and leadership expertise. We have had many new volunteers stepping up at some events, sometimes more volunteers than we can utilise. It ensures we can meet the demand of our growing programmes and demonstrates that transitioning to a “commercial” operating model is not the only option for a regional sports delivery organisation.

We also find ways to provide experience for our volunteers and members that complements their life goals, and supports their academic and/or professional development. For example, Finn Granich (now studying Fine Arts at Massey University in Wellington), as a 2023 high school leaver designed the logo for our inaugural Eden Park Sprint, and is mentoring our next creative, year 8 student Sophie Bacchus, to review and redesign the CMOC club uniform.

Coaching & sport leadership
Anthony McGivern has been accepted onto a multi-year national programme with Sport NZ to learn more about coaching and coach development. We’ve been transitioning our Saturday Morning Advanced Running Training (SMART) programme from a coaching programme to a coach development-focussed programme. Many workstreams have delivered increased coaching to our events  to meet changing requirements and our growing demand.
And Year 13 student Catherine Motion, as part of the club’s executive committee has been invited to participate in regional sports governance to build new networks.

Public profile 
By building relationships with media and news producers across our region, we’re improving the  public profile of the sport, successfully getting a number of articles published and building local awareness of orienteering. We also achieved Aotearoa-wide media coverage, with morning ‘Breakfast’ profiling our inaugural Eden Park Sprint event on national TV – another first for orienteering in New Zealand.

We have identified a lack of knowledge about club-level orienteering opportunities; we recognised we need to respond to phrases like, “It’s a shame that after this [Sprint Series] there is no more orienteering until next year.” We’ve always had very strong relationships with the schools, and we will continue to increase our community messaging through to the participating students’ families.

We have created an information bulletin for schools, parents, and students – this has become very popular, and schools are now asking for it ahead of the Schools Sprint Programme. 

Emerging technology
In our media we  are using new digital options/platforms such as Discord and Instagram alongside traditional media such as printing and  tools like QR codes for events printed on competitors maps.

Club member Greg Bacchus has been developing the free-to-use OTrax software product. This tool enables people to upload their smart wearables’ recorded activity data over a digital image of their course and see exactly where they ran on the map, as opposed to where they thought they ran. Previously, the use of RFID technologies has been restricted to elite competitors but now OTrax facilitates competitors, coaches, course designers and planners, to see exactly where participants run and compare route choices in “real-time”.

Partnerships, future delivery planning and design
We have developed a mutually beneficial commercial and operations partnership with New Zealand’s national stadium, Eden Park. We had over 500 school students from Bombay School to Orewa College competing at our inaugural event last year, and a tremendous level of engagement. Our Club President Anthony McGivern, has also been developing new stretegic stakeholder relationships, beyond schools aligning with delivery partners such as Aktive (Auckland Region Sport & Recreation) and other sports sector operators.

Regionally we work together with all Auckland clubs (Counties Manukau Orienteering, Auckland Orienteering, and North-West Orienteering) planning and developing an integrated event programme. Across the clubs we have different cultures, strengths, and interests, and it enables us to challenge each other to create a stronger outcome every year. Last year, one of the ideas raised by Tim Bacchus was of broader regional inter operability. Brought on by how Counties Manukau Orienteering collaborated with Orienteering Waikato to deliver the King’s Birthday Weekend of O in 2023, we led the thinking to include orienteers and events from across the Waikato region in calendar development, especially with respect to the more southerly events run by CMOC. Fun fact: Did you know that Waiuku Forest is not in the Auckland region? It’s in the Waikato!
By Anthony McGivern, Greg Bacchus and Katherine Granich

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