Development Plan


In 2008 the SAOF adopted as its vision Development Growth Excellence.  This reflects the belief that in order to grow the sport, development and roll-out of education pathways is required in order to reduce the “Barriers to Entry” inherent in the sport. This vision also recognises that excellence, which includes being internationally competitive at the highest level, will not be possible without the foundation of development and growth of the sport.

The SAOF’s 2021-2025 Development plan (download) has been devised after the conclusion of our generation of an orienteering Long Term Participant Development model.  During our assessment of orienteering in South Africa it was identified that the weakness of Orienteering in South Africa relates to the small number of active participants in the sport as well as the lack of an effective education system to lower the barriers to entry inherent in the sport.  In addition the small size of the active membership does not reflect South Africa’s demographics, which means we are not exposing possible future champions to the sport.

It is the SAOF’s belief that in order to grow orienteering in South Africa we need to skill-up more people in the making of maps, in the coaching of participants and the in organising of events.  Coupled to these problems is the challenge of volunteerism.  Any initiatives to achieve the SAOF’s vision are constrained by the fact that their implementation relies on the efforts of a small number of volunteers.

The short-term and long-term objectives of the SAOF from a Development perspective, as identified during the development of our LTPD model are stated below:

Short-term objectives 3-5 years

  • Active Orienteering clubs in 5 provinces (currently we are active in three provinces)
  • Improve Participation Levels across all demographics

Long-term Objectives:  2021

  • Active Orienteering clubs in 7 of 9  provinces
  • 5 Constituted Provincial Bodies
  • Further extend participation in Orienteering across all demographics.
  • Improved demographic representation on administrative bodies.

Key Strategic Elements

There are number of key strategy elements that guide the various projects and initiatives of the SAOF.  These are described below.

The Children are the Future

An integral part of this plan is to encourage new and existing clubs to expose more children to orienteering by running schools leagues and by implementing the successful YOC (Young Orienteers Challenge) system.  This skills development program targets primary school children.

Schools Life Orientation Curriculum

We aim to capitalise on the development that orienteering is now part of the Life Orientation subject within the school curriculum.  This provides us with an opportunity to present orienteering at high schools, many of which had rejected previous advances on the basis that they already have a full complement of traditional school sports.  We hope that this will give us access to a huge audience for our sport.

We firmly believe that the future of our sport lies in getting children to be active and experience enjoyment through sport.  This is a basic tenet of the Long Term Participant Development (LTPD) model that the SAOF has developed as part of the greater SASCOC effort to encourage a healthy and active nation.

Education is Key

Underpinning the Expansion plan is the provision of a comprehensive Introduction to Orienteering training course together with a high-quality resource pack.  This will form the introductory level in our Coach Education system.  The remainder of this system will be developed following the guidelines provided by SASCOC’s Coach Framework project in which the SAOF participates.

The construction and implementation our Coach, Official and Athlete development programmes will all use our LTPD model as their guide.

Professionalise the Sport

A major impediment to our ability to grow Orienteering outside of our traditional centres is that we have no full-time staff. At the beginning of 2011 we employed a part-time administrator, with the aim of freeing-up the SAOF executive committee to focus on strategic initiatives.  In addition the successful implementation of our Expansion Plan requires active project management.  The time-demands of successful project management are beyond the volunteers who have historically implemented the SAOF’s various Growth and Development projects.  Hence the SAOF intends to secure funding to employ a project manager.  We believe that successful projects will enable the SAOF to secure more funding for further expansion of these projects, which will enable the SAOF to employ more full-time project managers.

Strategic Partnerships

Another key strategy to expand our reach has been identified.  The aim is to form strategic partnerships with organisations that are involved in sport delivery and to piggy-back on their well-established delivery networks.  The idea being that for a relatively small financial commitment we could support a coach who would offer orienteering in addition to the activities already offered by the partner organisation.

Exciting Introductory Level Format

One of the challenges when introducing orienteering to new people is to present the sport in an easy-to-understand, exciting and accessible format.  We also believe that introduction at a school level will benefit from a competitive format.  We therefore envisage utilising an event format that includes a number of the following elements: mass start, relay and micro-O.

Project Reviews

At all times we need to be aware of our capacity to implement stated projects.  Within our constraints it is of great importance that any goals follow the SMART principles, i.e. that all goals are:

S – Specific;  M – Measurable;  A – Attainable;  R – Realistic;  T – Time-bound

Regular monitoring of progress against particular “measures of success” will enable us to fine-tune project implementation, or even close projects that are not effective.  The process of project implementation is one of constant learning.  Project implementations in new areas will be revised based on these learnings.

Overview of Projects

Below is an overview of the various Development projects.  More details on each project are provided in our 2013-2016 Development Plan (download, pdf 330KB).

Expansion Plan

This is the SAOF’s flagship Development project aimed at exporting orienteering to cities, regions and provinces other than those in which the sport is already well-established.  The Expansion Plan has been designed on the back of much learning over the past three years.

There are a number of supporting projects that reinforce the delivery of the Expansion plan.  These projects allow us to develop and refine concepts in established areas, which are then incorporated in the Expansion Plan to make its implementation more effective.  These support projects are described briefly below:

Youth Orienteering Challenge (YOC)

YOC targets Primary School learners.  It is driven by the child’s parents and coordinated by a club administrator.  The novice parent of a participating child will also learn the basic orienteering skills as they guide their child’s learning.  As the child progresses they earn badges appropriate to each new skill that they learn.

YOC has been run very successfully in Gauteng for the past two and a half years.  Whilst it has been run in the Western Cape over the same period it has not been as successful. (See YOC reports).

Permanent Courses

Although we encountered major challenges in establishing permanent courses, it is still our belief that this concept is useful in making Orienteering more accessible.  Problems of landowner permission and effective ways to distribute maps have not been overcome to any great extent.  Progress is being made in a few areas in Gauteng that we hope will lead our being able to open further doors to establish permanent courses.

Gauteng Schools League Development

The Gauteng Schools League has now been running for over 10 years.  The way it is currently run does not lend itself to growth as it relies heavily on the manpower provided by interested clubs.  Its maturity, however, allows us to use this league as a vehicle to explore various concepts aimed at developing other schools league formats that are less reliant on club manpower, that improve the inter-school competitive component (i.e. relay format) and that are successful in exposing the children to the wider world of Orienteering (i.e. school camps).

A second component of schools league development in Gauteng will attempt to capitalise on the relatively strong club base in Gauteng.   We will encourage and support the introduction of other schools leagues in other parts of the province (e.g. Centurion, Pretoria, etc.). The introduction of new leagues in Gauteng will allow us to experiment with the format that we intend to roll-out within the Expansion Plan.


If you are interested in any of these initiatives, please contact either the VP Development or the VP Marketing for more information.

There is an interesting article about our Development ambitions in the IOF’s O-zine.