Global Orienteering Volunteer Platform: “Volunteering abroad … and why not you?”

Orienteering volunteers Valentin CHAREYRE and Frédéric TRANCHAND from France talked about their experiences in the French Orienteering Magazine CO Mag. IOF RYDC took the opportunity to share their enthusiasm and also asked David Poland from Australia and Diana Malaed from Lebanon to comment on developing orienteering through the IOF Volunteer Platform.

Valentin is a 26 year old orienteer from Nantes Atlantique Orienteering Club who volunteered to help Lebanon with some mapping in order to develop orienteering there. Frédéric is a multi-medal winner of the French Orienteering National Team who chose to join the volunteer program in Australia, coaching children.

Valentin states how he volunteered for the project:
“I have always taken the opportunity to combine traveling with orienteering. My brother had recently gone to stay in Lebanon so I sent a message to asking to volunteer for a project in this country. Within 48 hours I was put in contact with Diana Malaeb, who leads attempts in Lebanon to establish an official Federation, who asked me to do some mapping. The university in center of Beirut had been chosen as a priority. I was able to start with the basics before my travel, then spent another 3 days on-site finishing the map. I spent 10 days there, meanwhile touring the country. The terrain in Lebanon is of great versatility and could lead to World Cup standards in the future.

I think this is a unique opportunity to discover a country in a new light. This experience allowed me to meet people and discover places that I could never have done in a classical touristic trip. I highly encourage others to join the volunteer program. Put down the countries you wish to travel to and you will be contacted quickly. After that, it is just a matter of balancing “work” and leisure while serving our sport in the long run.”

Frédéric was a volunteer in Canberra, Australia, teaching orienteering in primary and secondary schools, for over 5 months. He also hepled coach the Canberra juniors in a national training camp in Victoria. Theo Fleurent from France had already done this type of volunteering exactly in the same setting a few years ago. He really enjoyed this experience and motivated Frédéric to take part in this adventure.
“I believe this is a real life-experience. You see a lot of extraordinary things and make a lot of new friends. It is always rewarding to see other ways of doing things and being in a new environment. It requires adapting, finding new benchmarks and sometimes getting out of your comfort zone, but I think it’s very good for you. We stayed with families there, which gives you the opportunity to get to know different cultures. I really enjoyed being there, I do not regret one second of my stay.”

We asked David Poland, coordinator of the orienteering scholarships in Australia to say a few words about their project.
“The idea for a coaching scholarship began in Canberra, Australia in 2012. We wanted to provide coaching for ordinary families – parents and children. When my son took a gap year and travelled to Europe for 6 months of Orienteering he teamed up with a club in Sweden who looked after him and showed him around. This gave me the idea – why couldn’t we do the same here in Australia? And so the ACT coaching Scholarship Programme took place. In 2013 we hosted Lukas Funk from Switzerland. Since then Australia has hosted about 40 overseas young people to volunteer to come and coach orienteering in Australia.

In 2016 we began to promote the concept of an international version and contacted the IOF to tell them of the idea. We are very pleased to see that IOF has adopted this concept and that it now works in many countries around the world. Anyone wishing to visit Australia should visit the dedicated volunteer coaching website.

Diana Malaeb has the following to say about orienteering in Lebanon:
“Orienteering Lebanon has newly been introduced to the IOF Volunteering Platform through which we got in contact with Valentin Chareyre, and we can proudly say that it has overall been a great and pleasurable experience to have. We are proud to have hosted someone like Valentin. It was a beneficial and insightful encounter where both parties enjoyed the process, learnt a lot about the region, and gained skills from one another. In addition to the remarkable work that resulted from this visit, it was really about the experience; getting to meet a new person, learning, and broadening the network. The service provided by the IOF Volunteering Platform acts as a very useful tool and has immensely helped us connect and learn. It provides a platform where orienteers share their love for this exquisite sport, and allows different people from different backgrounds and cultures to bond over the world known language of Orienteering and mapping. We are thrilled to announce that through the IOF Volunteering Platform, Lebanon has obtained its first official world standard Orienteering map!!
As Orienteering Lebanon, we aim to constantly grow and enrich our content. We are currently in the process of introducing the sport to different schools and universities in Lebanon, and will soon be announcing our first school competition that will take place during the World Orienteering Day. We continuously seek new opportunities and hidden potentials in our beautiful nature to provide variety, and spread the sport of Orienteering to the greatest scope of people. For this reason, we are surely looking forward to collaborate with more volunteers in the near future. With every new Orienteering site comes a new experience, a new friend, new learnings, and a new opportunity that’ll bring lovers of this sport together. is the
Diana Malaeb is the founder of Orienteering Lebanon, now accepted as member of COMOF and hopefully a new IOF Member Federation soon.

As the IOF Regional and Youth Development Commission we are sure that through voluntary work, we can help develop orienteering in many countries where there are not yet many possibilities for the sport. In addition, countries already in the lead in mapping, coaching and organising can contribute, like Australia, by hosting young orienteers and place them in positions where they can add to the work already being done in that region, meanwhile getting to meet new people and making new friends in a different country.

Global Orienteering Volunteer Platform