Spain was the big winner of the Latin Countries Cup 2015, held at Vlessart in early May. Inside Orienteering takes a look at the history of the Cup, which is soon 20 years old, has 17 member countries so far and has served as a bridge, increasingly solid, between Europe and America.
By Joaquim Margarido
Varna, Bulgaria, 1994. The lunch period marked a break in the Congress of the International Orienteering Federation and by a chance, Alexandrescu Constantin and Coman Ciprian, respectively President and General Secretary of the Romanian Orienteering Federation and Livio Guidolin, the General Secretary of the Italian Orienteering Federation and his wife sat down around the same table. From the intersection of conversations to the discovery of what both federations had in common was only a small step.
The chat continued and what started as a simple exchange of complimentary words, soon became more serious however with Alexandrescu’s proposal to organise an Orienteering competition for the Latin Countries. Enthusiastically received by Guidolin and, immediately, by the representatives of Federations of Spain, France and Portugal, also present at Varna, the idea had a practical effect the next Latin Countries Cup – 20 years of history day, with a special meeting aimed to formalise the foundation of the Latin Countries Cup. Name of the competition, goals, timings, composition of the teams, competition classes, results calculation formula, trophies, organisation and participation in expenses, such were the issues on the table. They drafted the project of statutes, and moved it on to the ratification stage by the five founding federations and elected the Italian Livio Guidolin as first General Secretary of the Latin Countries Cup. At Buzau, Romania, between 12th and 15th October 1995, took place the first edition of the Latin Countries Cup – Latinum Certamen, with the Romanian representation being the first one winning the competition.
The years of consolidation
Between 1996 and 1999, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain received by this order, the following editions of the Latin Countries Cup. In the meanwhile, Livio Guidolin gave his place of General Secretary to the Belgian Eric Hully, who remained in office between 1997 and 2005. These will be the years of consolidation. Increasingly, the Latin Countries Cup is stated as the friendly meeting place between Latin orienteers, providing the exchange of knowledge on training, pedagogy and methods of learning, in short, contributing to the development of Orienteering in the countries of Latin origin.
Belgium is admitted as a member of the Latin Countries Cup in 1997 and the 1998’s edition, held in Portugal, witnessed the participation of Brazil, which was accepted as the seventh full member, the first Latin American country to join the Latin Countries Cup. Between 2000 and 2008, the Latin Countries Cup revisited Belgium and the five founding countries. In 2004, again in Portugal, Mozambique is as a guest and accepted as full member the following year, along with Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela, in an edition held in Spain. In 2004, Spain won the right to keep definitively the trophy after winning the Portuguese edition, the third of a series that started in Italy
and continued in France. In the 2005 annual meeting, held in Seville, the Spanish José Angel Nieto Poblete was elected General Secretary of the Latin Countries Cup, place that he still holds and has just renewed until 2017. In 2008, Switzerland is admitted as a full member of the Latin Countries Cup.
A bridge over the Atlantic
The year 2009 represented a step forward in the history of the Cup, with the holding of the 15th edition for the first time outside Europe. In a process that began two years earlier by Itamar Torrezan and was concluded by Otavio Dornelles, Brazil organised an event that got participants from Uruguay and Chile, members no. 13 and 14 of a “club” that continues to grow.
Brazil would be the big winner of this edition, preceding Portugal which obtained in 2010 its first and only triumph in the competition’s history. In 2011, with the return of the competition to Spain, Costa Rica, Peru and Paraguay are admitted as full members, making the number of members 17. In 2014, the Latin Countries Cup crossed the Atlantic for the second time in its history, with the competition taking place in Uruguay. The victory in this edition went to Spain, repeating it already in 2015, in Belgium, in front the strong opposition from Belgians and Italians. In 2016 we will have a new transatlantic voyage, this time to Chile, contributing to the project to merge Europe and Latin America as hosts of the successive editions of the event. The years 2017 and 2019 already have Italy and Portugal as candidates for organising the event. And in 2018, who will be the Latin American country to host the Latin Countries Cup?
[See the original article in the IOF's newsletter Inside Orienteering, at http://orienteering.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/InsideOrient-2_15.pdf. Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]