IOF sets the ball rolling with the Global Orienteering Volunteer Project

The Global Orienteering Volunteer Project was initiated in Autumn 2017 by the IOF Regional and Youth Development Commission. The principle aim is to bring orienteers who would like to share their expertise together with countries, clubs and orienteering communities which are in need of a helping hand.

Through such a process, everyone wins: The volunteer gets to travel to other regions/countries, maybe to a country they have never been to before. A country / club in need of some expertise in mapping, teaching orienteering, coaching, organising an event, or maybe just someone to share the work of organizing a big event can find a volunteer who would come over to help. In the end, it is friendship, helping each other and orienteering that win.

Since the project was announced, quite a few orienteers have already volunteered to share their knowledge with others. Up to date, we have about 70 volunteers from 34 different countries. Applications to recruit volunteers has appeared to be a slower process. So far, 6 countries have requested volunteers to help with different orienteering projects. But we are sure that once the word gets around, many more will want to share this medium of voluntary contribution, something which seems at this point, to be unique to our sport.

Albania has been really active in matching their requests with volunteers who have agreed to help. We interviewed Alexey Zuev, an experienced orienteer from Russia who is doing some voluntary mapping work for Albania.

Alexey, please tell us a bit about yourself, your orienteering past and your future expectations.

Orienteering has always been and remains to be my favourite activity. I started orienteering in 1978 and I am still an active orienteer, mainly in FootO. I regularly take part in events at various levels, from local events to WMOC.

I first started drawing maps because I had to. But then it fascinated me, so I have been drawing orienteering maps for about 30 years now.

What made you volunteer for the Global Orienteering Volunteer Project?

I remember many of my friends from the O-world, for whom the help of volunteers would be very necessary and useful.

Have you done volunteer work for orienteering before? 

Yes, of course. There were many times especially in the past, when we had to deal with a situation where there were not enough maps or resources. Many orienteers had to do everything themselves, draw maps, prepare courses or arrange events. And as a rule, it was not for payment, but voluntary work.

What is the work you are doing for Albania at the moment? What are your expectations after you complete this work?

I am preparing an MBTO map for the Albanian Orienteering Project. I am drawing a draft map in OCAD using base materials prepared by Inge Bosina.

Will it be exciting to visit Albania?

Who knows? I have never been to Albania before, so I guess such a journey would be interesting. Why not?

What would you like to say about the Global Orienteering Volunteer Project? Any comments or suggestions to spread this wave of voluntary help further?

I think it is a good idea indeed. My life experience (and I hope not only mine) says that the more you give, the more you get. And besides, orienteering is a sport for which you never regret devoting effort.

Anything you would like to add?

Orienteering is my hobby – I could do this endlessly. But by occupation I was never connected with orienteering, so I have always been orienteering only in my spare time or on vacation. It is nice to get the opportunity to be involved in the development of orienteering in a country I have never been to.

Many thanks Alexey, both for the interview and for volunteering for GOVP.

We also asked Inge Bosina, who is working hard to develop orienteering in Albania for her comments on the Global Volunteer Project.

“I started the Albanian Orienteering Project in 2013 with O-Ringen academy together with one Albanian athlete. Since then I have worked hard to spread orienteering in Albania and have started to organise the Albanian Orienteering Days, a multiday international event each year. However, I do not have much help from the local organizations as orienteering is still quite a new sport here.

Some time ago I noticed this new volunteer project on the IOF website. I put in a request for volunteers and what a big surprise: 9 volunteers offering support for the Albanian Orienteering Project contacted me! Most offered help in mapping, some with organizing events.

The IOF Global Volunteer Project is great for me, as, apart from some help from friends from Austria, this is the first time I am not the only expert here in Albania. It gives me the feeling of being recognised in my work and motivates me to do more.

The first specific action was an MBTO map in a region north of Shkodra using basemaps I sent, being drawn by Alexey Zuev. The idea is to start with Mountain Bike Orienteering with locals, as they prefer cycling to running.

Another project planned is a fixed control network in the Tirana region to be carried out by Tomáš Kamaryt and Marie. Valentin and Vasilis will be helping with some more mapping. Yevhen will help with the website…. So you see how happy I am about the project!

Thanks to all!”

Would you like to be a volunteer? Fill in the form here.

Do you need help in any field of expertise – mapping, organizing, teaching, coaching, IT, etc? Fill in a request form here.

Any questions or suggestions? Contact the Project Coordinator Nermin Fenmen at

Pictures: Albanian Orienteering Days 2017 Prize-Giving (top) and Alexey Zuev on the course