Manifesto for a New Type of Orienteering Club

I’ve had an idea for a new type of orienteering club for London. One with a slightly different focus to the current ones. My inspiration is City Runners and Centrum OK, and to a lesser extent Stragglers RC and Fetch Everyone.

  • Its aim would be member training, socialising and attending external events in a coordinated way, rather than putting on events.*
  • Its initial life would be as an community orienteering group (it is unclear whether such entities can be affiliated to the national federation) moving to full club status when membership numbers – and so finances – allowed, and certainly before it put on public events. Alternatively, and probably more likely, it could exist as a satellite of another club, such as MADO, which is/was a satellite of HOC.*
  • Membership would be very cheap – say £4 (+national/regional membership) or even free – it would be the cheapest way to be a member of an orienteering club and a national federation – especially as local-level national/regional membership is also free for the first year, making membership completely free for new people.**
  • It would potentially affiliate also to England Athletics – although as community running group rather than as a full running club.*
  • It would be an open, geographical club with core membership intended to be in, but not limited to, London Zones 1-4, or people who are otherwise very well connected to the centre of London.*
  • It would be called something like Central London or Cross River, to reflect its central London focus. Acronyms for the club name would be avoided as far as possible.*
  • It would have little kit of its own. It would probably have a small set of training flags, possibly acquired through the “Year in a Box”, bought from the national federation.
  • It would have a significant sponsor.

  • Promotion would be entirely online. It would have a small, low-key website, an announcement email list, a Facebook group and probably a Twitter account.*
  • Its primary form of promotion, announcements etc would be through the Facebook group.*
  • If funds allowed, a limited amount of advertising would be placed through Facebook and Google Adwords.
  • It would not have a paper newsletter, print flyers or indeed have any paper presence.*

  • It would in fact run some events, membership willing, but these would mainly be in the Street-O format (both score and point-to-point). Eventually it would put on a couple of Park Race style events in the summer time, once a small number of parks had been mapped by members of the club and members had gained the necessary qualifications.***
  • Professional mappers would not be employed. If possible, the club’s maps would be produced using FOSS.
  • As soon as its finances allowed, first-claim members would be able to attend all events put on by the club for free.
  • Its members would be actively encouraged to regularly take part in local events put on by the other London clubs and, if available, join such clubs as second-claim members.
  • It would eventually have a club kit but this would be in the form of runners’ technical tops rather than orienteering kit or runners’ race kit.*
  • It would have a club night run from a regular and central London location, probably a friendly pub. This would often take the form of a run rather than technical training.*

Inspired by:
* City Runners
** Stragglers
*** Centrum OK

Photo by timbobee.

7 replies on “Manifesto for a New Type of Orienteering Club”

But of course if you feel so passionately anti-kit that you need to mention it as a manifesto point then by all means found your club on that basis. The club spiritual leader should be driven enough to succeed with her (french usage) own ideas, which I know you to be.

I shall form my own club-kit-and-relays based initiative in the future.

I do want kit – just not O-kit – technical tops look so much better. No more pyjamas on the streets!

Ollie, it is in the establishment’s interests to block great initiatives like this. You should not pander to them to become what they want you to become within their own failing model.

But I strongly disagree with you on the matter of club kit. Lack of respect for the club kit is the single greatest reason that O is failing in this country. The club must be the central body in the development of the sport. Plus your spiritual leaders Centrum OK clearly adopted a most characteristic (retro??) all black (surely with collars and ¿¿even front pockets – actually I am maybe now fantasising on that point??) Hammarby IF OF were a similar but possibly more orienteering-focussed (and all-male) new initiative in Sthm at that time, again with a most characteristic kit (green-white, and football associated, cf IFK Goteborg).

The club colours on display at the relay events (club team competition events, far and away the second most important item on the agenda of club development) have got to be a key aspect, and probably the main reason why Sweden is streets (surely blocks of forest with some undergrowth and a good pathnetwork) ahead of us despite their own negative self-image..

This is a good pitch, as far as it goes; the upside is as you describe.

Downside: I suspect that others might claim you are cherry-picking and not cultivating (“parasite”), or that you are diverting effort from more profitable activity (“opportunity cost”).

Mitigation: You will need to make it clear that all relevant local clubs have declined to provide what you propose (“new development”), and persuade them that the new club will act as a feeder, or at least will not interfere with their patch (“both, not either/or”).

Practicalities: may be difficult. Putting on events (and perhaps even informal training) requires third-party insurance. Affiliiating to BO as a club would require getting Regional approval for your constitution – so you need to remain on good terms with club / regional reps.

Potential allies: Perhaps worth discussing with Ed N or Richard B in their roles as Development Manager and Participation Manager (South). The Development Committee meeting of October 2011 discussed marketing to target groups – perhaps you could spin this manifesto as a proposal for practical experiment and an opportunity for learning.

James – thanks, these are all good counterpoints. I wasn’t aware of the restrictions for creating a new club. I think such a club would probably be incubated by another club initially.

Perhaps it should be “OCD4OOB”?! Orienteering Club Designed For Ollie O’Brien! I suspect the last clause of your opening paragraph would quickly rub you up the wrong way against the orienteering establishment. Where would we be if all clubs opted out of putting on events? Or would you argue that some people enjoy putting events on and others don’t and this club would be for the latter?

Dave – there are too many orienteering events for the number of people in the sport in the UK. We need to grow participants, not events.

I also think that if a club’s primary aim is staging events rather than developing the members of the club, then it is alienating a very sizeable potential membership.

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