It's true that the World Orienteering Day's numbers turn out to be the most visible part of a fantastic initiative, but other less visible trues eventually become public and this is the case of Orienteering in Cameroon. Attracted by the joy and energy on the images that illustrate the event hold in the African country, the Portuguese Orienteering Blog went to meet Mouna Nouma and his own reality. Here is the result of a really nice conversation.
The 11th May 2016 was truly special. The interest shown by schools, clubs and institutions in celebrating the World Orienteering Day extended to 79 countries and territories around the world, joining in the same will, both the superpowers and those countries where the development of the sport is still embryonic. Cameroon is an example of this reality. But if Orienteering has no expression in a country where the most popular sport is by far football, it wasn't for this reason that Cameroonian orienteers no longer joined the great celebration, adding 59 units to a number that would have exceeded the 250,000 participants around the World.
Big responsible for the birth and development of Orienteering in Cameroon, Mouna Nouma is our interlocutor. But let him introduce himself. “My name is Noukeu Marjolain. Mouna Nouma it's an abbreviation. I did my primary and secondary education until my BA in 2004 in Mbanga, a place 60 km North from Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon. Then I moved to Yaoundé for the University where I got my Master Degree in Biochemistry in 2011. In 2008 I became familiar with the IT tools in the IT pilot center in Yaoundé”, he says.
Mouna Nouma is passionate about Orienteering. He practiced Table Tennis in High School, which is also an unknown sport in Cameroun, but in his head always dwelt a particular taste to discover new and challenging sports. So, it was in an almost natural way that he started looking for a totally unknown discipline to the public in general and that could be challenging enough from an intellectual point of view. “That's how I discovered Orienteering, through the Sports' Yearbook”, Nouma remembers. “I got interested when I realized that this discipline matched my wishes, being more original by combining mental and physical skills”, he says, adding an important detail: “And it's virtually unknown in Africa and in my country.”
What attracts Nouma the most in Orienteering “is the peculiarity of having fun when you're teaching it. Thus I tried to learn more and more”, he says. In 2012, Mouna Nouma decided to implement Orienteering in Cameroon, starting with the procedures next the IOF. “I was in touch with Barbrö Ronberg, Secretary General at the time, and she told me what to do to be an IOF member. Thus I've committed the administrative procedures for the national recognition until our adherence as a member of IOF in July 2013”, Mouna remembers.
Two questions, two answers
Why have you decided to participate in the World Orienteering Day?
- I feel myself completely caught up by Orienteering and we couldn't miss an opportunity like this. Being the first edition, Cameroon had to be present. I think we have achieved our goal. The World Orienteering Day was carried out in excellent conditions and the public was present. We can only rejoice and enjoy the result of our efforts to make the event a reality.
What major difficulties you find in implement and developing Orienteering in your country?
- Thank you for this question because it allows me to list the difficulties I've been founding in the implementation process of Orienteering in Cameroon. We have lots of problems: Financial problem - the Association doesn't receive any financial support, everything being done with our founds and sometimes using our personal means. Recently we couldn't take part in the Championships in Egypt for lack of finance, despite the efforts and obtaining the visa. We don't have material such as flags, GPS, etc.
“We'll be a great Orienteering nation in ten years”
Despite all problems, Mouna Nouma seems to be optimistic about the future: “Of course, Cameroon is a country open to all sports and, believe me, we'll be a great Orienteering nation in ten years.” For this to happen, there is too much work ahead: “Currently my prospects are numerous, but firstly I would like to make popular the discipline in Cameroon. I also would like to find some partners to support our efforts. But my biggest wish would be to represent IOF in Central Africa, be as an agent of development of our sport and take part in international competitions with a team that would dignify our country”, Mouna concludes.
[Photo courtesy Mouna Nouma]