Thursday, March 03, 2016

Tamer Mehanna: "Orienteering in Egypt has a short time but a long story"

Orienteering in Egypt is unanimously considered a story of success. The sport seems to be well implemented, clinics and events are being held in a successful way and Orienteering is calling the attention of new participants, social media and official entities. Behind all this work, the name of Tamer Mehanna appears naturally. Specialist in sport field, master degree in sport training and PhD in sport psychology, he's the true engine of Orienteering in Egypt and the Portuguese Orienteering Blog's invited today.

I would start by asking you about the main steps before the establishment of the Egyptian Orienteering Federation.

Tamer Mehanna (T. M.) - In 2010 I was in Germany studying sport training, and one of the sports was orienteering. I liked it very much, founding it really interesting and healthy for our people in Egypt. After my return back home, I started searching everything about orienteering. I found the IOF’s webpage and sent an email, asking for help in order to start making orienteering popular in Egypt and establishing a National Orienteering Federation. They wanted to know the details of my plan and I sent them a document with eight goals. I can see now that we were able to reach them all, with our international event in Luxor was the goal number 8. Now we have new dreams and some goals more to achieve.

Did you feel, since the beginning, that Orienteering in Egypt would be a reality in such a short term? Where was the secret of your success?

T. M. - Yes I felt that. WOW! I didn’t really imagine all love for this new sport. They love it so much from the first map, people of all ages - begin with 8 years, adults and to 70 years old -, it is a family sport. Now they're asking me to organize more events in short time and we'll have a new one, next July. To achieve your goals, you should believe in yourself. The secret of our success is in our belief that we can do all the necessary to achieve our goals. Nothing can stop you, just go and go further. Be a real fighter.

What were the main challenges you've faced and how did you overcome?

T. M. - Of course, everything was new and we started by explaining to everyone what kind of sport Orienteering was and how to do it. We tried not depending on government's support, finding our own sponsors, attracting media and making everything by ourselves to spare our ideas all over the country.

From the first clinic in Ismaelia, the 11th and 12th June 2014, up to now, there's a lot of actions including 15 seminars in many cities in Egypt, four orienteering clinics for coaches and advisers, twelve orienteering clubs, almost two thousand competitors so far, programs on the National TV...

T. M. - Orienteering in Egypt has a short time but a long story. One year and a half ago, orienteering was just an idea in my mind. No one knew what it was, how to do it. But I set up a plan to make it known by most of people in our country and I succeeded.

May I have your opinion on the recent Egypt International Orienteering Championships, in Luxor, a few days ago. How important was it for Orienteering in Egypt?

T. M. - It was the greatest dream in our list and the first step to build our orienteering system in Egypt as a real orienteering country. The way it was carried proves that we can do it, we can organize big events and we have a good system here to make orienteering more popular, attracting not only athletes from abroad but also more Egyptian to do orienteering in next events.

What's next?

T. M. - In fact, we have a lot of dreams on a local, regional and international level. On a local level, I hope to have a big national event in every city in Egypt and we'll join Universities, Schools, Clubs and Youth Centers to celebrate the World Orienteering Day. On higher levels, we plan to host the first Arabic Orienteering Championships and we hope we'll able to organize also the first African Orienteering Championships, bringing many countries to our events.

Is the creation of a National Team to compete in major IOF events in your plans right now?

T. M. - We plan to build our national teams and participate in WOC, JWOC, WMOC and MCO. And we'll try to have a Training Camp in Sweden before the WOC 2016.

How do you expect to see Orienteering in Egypt in 2020?

T. M. - I expect a strong orienteering system in Egypt by 2020, strong national teams and real African orienteering system too. I also plan to apply to organize a big event like WOC or JWOC.

In personal terms, how are you living this experience? Does it completely fulfills your interests and ambitions?

T. M. - Orienteering is my life, now. It is my way and my process to support targeted action steps. The limit is not the sky; I'll try to go as far as I can.

[Photo: Tamer Mehanna's courtesy]

Joaquim Margarido

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