The Confederation of Mediterranean Orienteering Federations (COMOF) organized its first Youth Training Academy (YTA) in Algeria in January 2020. “We chose Algeria for this event, to bring orienteering to a new country, where the Mediterranean Games are planned to be held in 2021, with orienteering introduced as a demonstration sport. Thanks to sub-regional project support granted by the IOF Regional and Youth Development Commission, we were able to prepare everything we needed,” says the project leader and the COMOF president Zoran Milovanovic.
Another important goal was to bring together young participants from the COMOF region with participants from already orienteering developed countries to exchange orienteering experience.
The city of Tlemcen, 150 km from Oran (host city of the next Mediterreanean Games) was chosen to host the Youth Training Academy. In agreement with the local host, the Federation sport of all Algeria, the first 3 orienteering maps ever in Algeria were prepared and served as a base for the 4 days programme of the Academy, in which 64 participants from 3 COMOF countries participated. The most attendees were from the host country, from all over Algeria. “They were so enthusiastic, carefully following all the lectures and presentations, trainings in terrains with maps, as well as evaluations afterwards,”said Zoran in appreciation of the engagament of the local participants.
The highlight of the Academy was the Sprint YTA Championships organised in Tlemcem city centre sport complex and its surroundings. “Happy faces of young participants at the end confirmed that we are on the way with orienteering development,” adds Zoran.
Unfortunately, not so long after the Academy, the Covid-19 pandemic came to Algeria as well, and follow-up plans were not able to be realized. “We are looking forward to taking the next steps and to achieve our biggest goal, to include orienteering into the official programme of the Mediterranean Games. The first one is coming in Oran, Algeria, in July 2022, and the next one in Taranto, Italy, 2026. By then the COMOF and the IOF family should be larger and stronger with several new members,” the COMOF president describes the plans.