Portraits of National Sports Association

Orienteering Association of Hong Kong China (OAHK)

A bustling city with lots of skyscrapers, Hong Kong boasts numerous natural attractions of outstanding tranquil beauty, which are to be explored by the public. Orienteering helps urban dwellers reconnect with nature. The origin of the OAHK can date back to 1982, when organisations such as the Volunteers and the Scouts participated in orienteering activities frequently. Meanwhile, many other groups and institutions offered various orienteering activities as well. Given this, the principal of the Royal Hong Kong Police Cadet School decided to take the lead in establishing the OAHK.

The OAHK has served the city for over four decades since its establishment. Its organisation structure is slightly different from that adopted in other national sports organisations in that its affiliated and associate clubs act as executive units. Such clubs have flexibility to determine their own approaches to promoting the development of orienteering, and can achieve their goals under the auspices of the OAHK which will provide support and resources as necessary. This multi-pronged approach can effectively promote the overall development of orienteering, while attracting more interested persons from different sectors.

Orienteering: the choice of the wise

Orienteering is an unique sport blending sports, navigation and adventure. Participants use maps and compasses to devise the best route, having regard to the distribution of control points, in order to reach the destination as soon as possible. Orienteering requires both physical fitness and tactical thinking, for orienteers must make decisions in different stages of competitions, select the most appropriate route, as well as complete the task within timeframe. There are two modes of foot orienteering, namely middle/long distance and sprint distance, with varying requirements for equipment. As far as middle/long distance is concerned, orienteers will go through different terrains, thereby warranting a higher level of protection such as using orienteering shoes, long-sleeved clothing as well as protective gear. Sprint orienteers only need to wear sports shoes and suitable sports clothing. Orienteering is highly challenging in that participants may find their judgement and physical fitness tested rigorously, be sprint or middle/long distance. As a matter of fact, this sport is long regarded as “the choice of the wise” by the international orienteering community.

Orienteering brings multiple benefits to participants. First, it is an outdoor sport, helping participants improve physical and mental well-beings and develop a closer affinity with nature. Orienteers can fully enjoy the beauty of nature regardless of being in rural areas or urban parks. Secondly, orienteering can enhance the intelligence and power of judgement of participants, for they have to stay calm and focused when making prompt decisions regarding the best route. In these ways, this sport is helping participants develop their thinking abilities and problem-solving skills.

Establishing a tier system to nurture elite athletes

Attaching great importance on the training and competitions of adult orienteers, the OAHK takes proactive efforts to nurture young orienteers by establishing a tier system, through which young athletes may participate in the sport, with a view to tapping potential and nurturing new local orienteers. The training starts from the Youth Athletes Training Scheme at the bottom tier, into which children of all ages are welcome to enrol, where they can pick up such basic orienteering skills as map reading, navigation and decision-making. In addition, coaches will select those promising orienteers to the squad, which covers different age groups comprising juniors, youths and adults. In doing so, the coaches can provide more advanced training and guidance, enhance athletes’ skills and physical fitness in a holistic manner, as well as develop a great mindset for competitions, thereby nurturing more elite athletes to represent Hong Kong to compete in future international events.

Promoting development of the sport by hosting international events

It is encouraging to note that Hong Kong athletes have achieved notable results in major orienteering competitions in recent years. For example, the Hong Kong squad won two gold, three silver, and four bronze medals in this year’s National Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships, a testimony to the successful development of orienteering in our city. Looking forward, the OAHK will continue to put in active efforts for promoting the local development of orienteering, while striving to host more international events in Hong Kong. While the Asian Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships is a case in point, Hong Kong earnestly hopes that the city will successfully bid for the orienteering event of the 2025 National Games, where local orienteers can show their mettle on the world stage.