Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Charly Jaep: “Chile has everything that an orienteer could wish for”

With the 2016 South American Orienteering Championships still alive in our memory, we meet Charly Jaep, one of the great workers of the Chilean Orienteering. With him, we enter an almost unknown story, valuing the past, understanding the present and trusting in the future!

To see the first steps of Orienteering in Chile, we have to go back to 1984, to an year in which it was introduced in the Armed Forces. Joining the process since the beginning, Brazil was a decisive partner in the sport's rooting in Chile. The great breakthrough, however, would take place only 10 years later, with the arrival of a few Swedish cartographers and the design of the first “coloured” maps, according to the international standards. That same year, the Chilean Army carried out the first Institutional Orienteering Championships, with technical advice from the German Dietrich Kühnemuth, one of the “fathers” of Orienteering in the country.

Throughout this evolutionary process, we highlight the introduction of Orienteering in the Schools of the region of San Vicente de Tagua Tagua, where a large number of teachers continue to enthusiastically dedicate their time to present the sport to the youngest. Also a note for the foundation, in 2008, of the “Outdoor Prismaventura”, an Orienteering Circuit in Santiago, which would give rise to an important club, the Club de Orientación Prismaventura.

SAOC 2016, a driving force

After a short historical review, time to start an interview about the present moment of Orienteering in Chile, calling one of its greatest enthusiasts, Jorge Armando Espinoza Püschel, better known as Charly Jaep. He was one of the central figures of the organization of the recent South American Orienteering Championships - the first South American regional event under the auspices of the International Orienteering Federation -, which is labeled as “a driving force of the Chilean Orienteering, both in competitive and organizational spheres.”

In relation to the SAOC 2016, Charly highlights “the lessons learned and the constant support of a cohesive group” and draws on the confidence of the Brazilian Sérgio Brito, IOF Event Adviser, “who made me believe in my abilities, both in design maps and setting courses.” The highest word is addressed to the work team: “Unexperienced in organizing major events, they have shown an enormous willingness to serve and to offer a beautiful event to the athletes who have visited us. They taught me that the team work exists but, above all, that we are a group of friends who loves Orienteering.”

Lack of maps

Talking about “his” Chile, Charly Jaep classifies the country's natural conditions for the practice of Orienteering as “perfect”, ensuring that Chile has everything that an orienteer can wish for”. He explains: “Our country has very interesting places to make the most of a race, with areas of abundant snow, volcanic regions, plains of native vegetation, large sand dunes and forests along the coast, without forgetting the North of Chile and one of the most fantastic places in the World, the Atacama desert. In short, Chile offers all kinds of terrain and climates for the practise of Orienteering.

- What are the main difficulties that Orienteering faces in Chile?

“One of our biggest problem has to do with the lack of maps, a fundamental element for the development of the sport. Our Federation is still very young and we don't have support from our government, but I believe that the situation can be reversed, Orienteering will be strengthened and a new stage will begin. Another aspect that worries us and which has been a huge problem is the lack of cooperation on the part of the landowners, since they don't know anything about Orienteering.”

The booster role of Brazil

An important part in the promotion and dissemination of Orienteering, not only in Chile but all over the World, is the Social Media. Referring to the fact that sports such as Football monopolizing the news, Charly Jaep notes that “we have had participations in some radio stations and regional channels, allowing to give a clear idea of what Orienteering is and encouraging its practise.” With lots of effort, the fruits are appearing: “Nowadays, the civil society is hearing about Orienteering and many children and adults are already enjoying the possibility of running with a map and a compass in the forest”, Charly Jaep says.

- How do you see the booster role of Brazil?

“Brazil has a significant advantage in terms of knowledge of the sport and its members develop a work of constant cooperation. I worked hard with them and appreciate their willingness in supporting me. Nowadays, Chile knows how to say “present”, putting into practice what we learn. But Brazil is undoubtedly a pillar in South America.”

Support and smiles

Strengthening Orienteering in Chile and expanding it to the civil society are some of the priorities of those in charge for the sport in Chile, but Charly Jaep also talks about “creating a database of existing cartography, promoting clinics for supervisors and cartographers and attracting more people to practise Orienteering, highlighting the enormous benefits tof its practise”, says Charly Jaep. Based on these premises and in the constant work of countless orienteers who, every day, show the Orienteering in the four corners of the country, Charly Jaep guesses a strongly promising future: “The constant evolution of Orienteering in Chile will cause it to grow in a significant way, leading to the rising of new projects and the establishment of an annual calendar of competitions with a minimum of 15 events”, he says, proposing a visit to the webpage O-Chile, at, to those interested in following the major improvements of the sport in Chile.

Finally, Charly Jaep shares with us its greatest joy: “I have worked hard on this project and my satisfaction is reflected in our achievements. It wasn't easy to get here, but the experience reached along the years has made of my life an interesting race. As a coach, cartographer or supervisor, I was able to know many people, from the youngest to the oldest, and everyone gave me a piece of their support, offering me a smile. It's a pleasure to be here, sharing these words with you”, he concludes.

[Photo courtesy of Charly Jaep]

Joaquim Margarido

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