Tiomila and Jukola are approaching and the Portuguese Orienteering Blog met Bruno Nazário, current coach of the winning team of Jukola's last edition, Kristiansand Orienteringsklubb. Besides some important tips on the two important Relays, we also had the opportunity to make the point regarding Portugal and Nazário's future plans ahead of KOK.
About to complete 36 years old, Bruno Nazário is experiencing a new period in his life. Physical Education teacher in a School of Golegã, in Portugal, he moved by three months to Kristiansand, in southern Norway, where he took over the head coaching of the local club Kristiansand Orienteringsklubb, one of the biggest orienteering clubs in the World. The starting point of our interview was centered in the big Relays - Tiomila and Jukola - the last one having in the Kristiansand OK the big winner in 2015.
Bruno Nazario can't say he participated in many big Relays and, above all, he didn't do it when he was at his best as an athlete. The opportunities came more recently and his participation occurred mainly in a recreational way. But, after all, what is it Tiomila and Jukola? Nazário explains: “Tiomila and Jukola are those events that all orienteers have to experience at least once in their lives”, he says. Highlighting the fantastic atmosphere in both Relays, Nazario notes, however, an important difference between them: “The Tiomila will be mostly for Elite teams, perhaps because a big part of the competition takes place at night, but the Jukola has an incredible popular dimension, at the major world marathons' level. Just think that will be about 1,500 female teams of four athletes each, plus 1500 male teams with 7 elements each, and we'll be talking about more than 15,000 competitors who come together for an unforgettable weekend. We find there the world's best athletes, those who enter for the competition, but also the recreational side, people masquerading as if they came for a Carnival party. It's an amazing experience which I recommend to everyone.”
The importance of belonging to a Nordic Club
Bruno Nazário likes to recall his own experiences in the big Relays. In 2013, for example, he managed to find a Finnish team and running the first leg. “It's unbelievable to start for an orienteering event with 1500 people around you. When I got to the first control, I waited about one minute to get to pin it up”, he recalls.
The truth is, however mythical that Tiomila and Jukola are, very few Portuguese athletes have a presence on it up to date. Bruno Nazário recalls that “during the years I was leading the Portuguese national team, I always tried that athletes realized the importance of having a Nordic club. The truth is that it never happened or happened rarely. I understand that not all clubs have the resources to pay the athletes' trips, but this has to do with the personal investment if an athlete wants to reach the top.” And will the Nordic clubs easily open their doors to any one? Nazário says, "I think there is, on the Portuguese athletes' side, some fear and they don't want to make this effort to try to find the clubs for which they wish to run. The Spanish, for example, are much more open when it comes to establishing exchanges; we are very closed. I tell you, honestly, that all clubs I have contacted were wide open. I think you don't have to be afraid, it's just to move forward, to take this step.”
Recover the tradition of a Night Ranking
Therefore, a first tip for those who have never participated in a big Relay is to try to find a Nordic club. But the lack of a Nordic club doesn't mean “the end of the world”. It is, at least, what appears from the following words: “Of course, it always helps to have a Nordic club, but we have in Portugal terrains of excellence, high quality maps and courses extraordinarily well organized. What is lacking sometimes is even the will to get the top. Of course, in a society like the Portuguese, where financial resources are low, things end up not being so easy. Here, for example, a youngster finds easily a part-time work, winning enough money to live on and still having lots of extra time to devote to orienteering. This, in Portugal, is much more difficult. But our athletes just have to be motivated and work to reach the top”, Nazário says.
Another great tip has to do with racing at night. Bruno Nazario assumes that he prefers to run a night leg, even if it turn out to be extremely difficult, as occurred in 2015, with some controls in green areas. But the truth is that we don't have in Portugal this tradition of nightly events and Bruno Nazário has, on it, his own opinion: “In Portugal, many years ago, a nightly ranking in the summer came to be a tradition and I think it would make sense. A country that wants to be developed in orienteering just can't stop two months in the summer, as in Portugal. This is a time when, normally, take place the major competitions like the World Championships; and this is the same time when our athletes should be in a competitive period but, simply, there's no competitions at all. If the problem is the high temperature during the day, so it makes sense having nightly competitions and recover the tradition of a Night Ranking.”
Growing together as a team
Bruno Nazario is in Kristiansand, where he took the place of KOK's head coach. The truth is that Kristiansand is not just any team. “If we used the football's language, what club would be Kristiansand OK”, we wondered, talking about Bayern Munich or Schalke 04 as a comparison. “This year I would say we want to be Leicester”, replies Nazário. He explains: “We lost several athletes, Daniel Hubmann, Baptiste Rollier, Mats Dahlen, who was both Elite athlete and the club's coach. Martin Hubmann is grappling with his studies and most likely will not run this year neither Tiomila nor Jukola. So the challenge is very big in terms of team rebuilding and allows me to work in a more intense way with the talented youngsters in the club. Incidentally, this corresponds to a paradigm shift on the club, working with athletes on a daily basis and wanting them to be here, unlike what happened with the previous team, in which only the coach was in Kristiansand. Training together and growing together as a team, this is my wish and this is the challenge I'm facing right now.”
Although short, the experience is going “very well”, Nazário says. For the KOK's new coach, “we're turning the mind set, as some of these young people saw the first team as something unattainable and now things changed. What I expect from them, whether or not in the first team, is to keep the motivation to work in the coming years. Just as important are the first team's athletes as the second team's athletes and all the work should be in the same direction”, he says.
“It's very difficult for me to be away from my family”
With the interview coming to an end, we learn that Bruno Nazario's experience as coach of Kristiansand OK “will last three months, because it was the time I had permission to leave my school in Portugal”, he says. But the plans for the future are centered in this Norwegian city, although it now depends on other factors, and particularly in getting to bring the family there. “The job is really motivating but it's very difficult for me to be away from my family”, he confesses.
Finally, Bruno Nazario shares his wish for the Kristiansand and the coming months in Norway: “My wish is that athletes have motivation to work and to help each other. This is the secret of success for any team, either in orienteering or other sport whatsoever. That all athletes work with the same goal, heading for the same place and keep the motivation and the spirit of mutual help. Only that way we'll do something big.”
[Photo: Kristiansand Orienteringsklubb / kok.no]