Portuguese coach teaching orienteering in the Yukon

The Yukon Orienteering Association hired a coach from Portugal to help train their athletes.

By Morris Prokop on June 30, 2022

The Yukon Orienteering Association hired a coach from Portugal to help train their athletes.

Beatriz Sanguino, 23, has been here for a few months now.

“It was lucky that I was here because I study in Norway as an Erasmus student here and I have a club there, NTNUI, and one of the girls was contacted by Erik (Blake) He couldn’t find a coach so she posted on the group chat…and I thought it was pretty interesting I wanted to go and yeah now I’m here and it’s amazing.

Erasmus is a European Union program to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Sanguino is studying for a degree in mechanical engineering in Tronheym, Norway, specializing in robotics.

“I like it. It’s really interesting.”

Sanguino explains how she ended up in Norway.

“My university in Portugal, they have lots of different countries with agreements so you can do Erasmus in different countries and when I was choosing which country I wanted to do I had a lot of countries to choose from but Norway seemed really interesting because it was a good university. In terms of orienteering, it was amazing. I had a lot of opportunities to do orienteering, much better than in Portugal. And nature – they also have a lot of nature, so it was amazing.

“It was between Norway and Canada, but Canada only had one university and it was in Quebec and my French wasn’t very good, that’s why I chose Norway.

“I’ve always wanted to come to Canada, so being here is like a dream come true, especially because I do orienteering every day. It’s incredible.”

While in the Yukon, Sanguino stayed with the family of Yukon Orienteering Association (YOA) Treasurer, Erik Blake.

“They welcomed me and they are super welcoming. They make me feel like home.

It was the YOA that hired Sanguino for the coaching position.

She has been in the Yukon since early May. She will return to Norway in July, as the programs end in early July.

On July 1, Sanguino and other Yukon Orienteers will travel to Calgary for the Canadian Orienteering Championships July 8-10, as part of the Canadian Rockies Orienteering Festival July 1-10.

“I will participate, then I will fly from Calgary back to Norway at the end. So I will not be returning to Whitehorse, unfortunately.

“I’m super excited. I have never done such a long race. I think we only have one day off. Or maybe two.

“I hope I’m fine but I’m not too worried about the competition; I just want to enjoy the grounds because it’s completely new, different grounds and I’ve never been there so I just want to have fun. I just want to make the most of it.

Sanguino is really enjoying his time in the Yukon.

“It’s amazing. When we arrived it was really different. It looked like the things we see in American movies, but I didn’t expect it to be the same here, but of course, it’s so close. Like, the streets are super wide like, there aren’t many people in the world. Everything is so quiet and the forest around the Whitehorse is amazing. Like, there are so many maps around from the city; you can just choose the one you feel like doing today and all of them are like, 10 minutes ride or something. Or you can even go with the bikes. It’s amazing!”

Sanguino explained why she is only here for a short time.

“As I had to come with the visa, the reason why I didn’t come earlier is that the visa process took a long time. Since I only saw the message from the friend… I saw it very late. The whole process like the interview and everything was super quick so we could try to get the visa done as fast as possible and because it’s a visa I had to book the flights home so I couldn’t stay too long, unfortunately.

“I would love to come back. It’s amazing and there’s so much to see, like hiking and things to do and I wanted to come in the winter too, because what people have been telling me, in winter it can be very cold and it feels different, it’s a new experience and I would love to try it.”

This is Sanguino’s first coaching gig.

“I’ve been an athlete since 2014, (20)’12…then I got into the national team in 2014 and since then I’ve been part of the national team…I’ve helped organize national trainings with young people – not just for the national team, but for everyone and for young people, but I’ve never coached people that young. Normally it would be 14 and over. Here in the Yukon, I I have kids seven years old, very young. I took all the experience I had as an athlete and the experience I had when I was helping coach the other kids I did. We had training camps and stuff like that, so I took that experience that I had and – I was never the only one in charge but I always helped and helped organize the races. of course, we have a lot of international races, which also allows you to gain experience.

“I’m really lucky because all the kids there – they’re amazing. They are super polite and that helps a lot.

Sanguino doesn’t just coach kids.

“I have three groups of children, so ages 7-10, 10-14 and 14-15, and then I have two groups of adults. It’s Nav 101 and Nav 201… Nav 101 is people who have never done orienteering before… Nav 201 is people who have done Nav 101 before but they want to continue to practice and improve.

“Most of them are super excited and they just want to know more and they always ask questions and it’s amazing.”

Sanguino’s passion for orienteering started at an early age.

“When I was younger I did a lot of hiking and mountaineering with my parents and my dad would get the map and I would always sit next to him and wanted to see how he read the map… topographical map, so not the same cards we’re using here. I have always loved looking at maps.

“My parents did orienteering before I was born and then at school, one of the teachers had contact with one of the clubs in Portugal, so we started doing orienteering in school and I joined them and… I love sports and never stopped since.

“It is physically a passion. I like the challenge when you have new ground in front of you and you don’t know – you’ve never been there. You just have a map and then you have to travel and I like – the things you see on the map, they match what you see in reality…and you keep running and trying to go as fast that you can while reading the map and it’s a fun challenge. And you have such high quality maps here. It’s just amazing. These are really difficult cards.

Unlike the Yukon, orienteering is not very popular in Portugal.

“No. I wouldn’t say that unfortunately…as we’re a small country we don’t normally have regional cups. We do, but they’re not very popular, so all the breeds that exist, all everyone goes there, from all over the country, they go there.

“In a national race, you would have 400, 500 people, which is not a lot and the people on the street, if you’re running, they don’t know what you’re doing, whereas here in Whitehorse, the people know what you’re doing.” re doing, which is amazing. So it’s not very common in Portugal… few schools have orienteering and I think it’s something we should try to do better, to captivate more children.

“In Whitehorse, from what I’ve seen, they do…so many training opportunities, so many races, it’s unbelievable. How incredible the effort they put in here in Whitehorse.

Sanguino added, “I’m really grateful for the YOA. They are amazing. They have been so supportive of what I do. For example, if I have questions, people help me and it’s amazing there. They are super welcoming and super nice…they support me in everything.

Pia Blake, Erik’s daughter, was a big help for Sanguino.

“She has already taken these courses. She was the coach a few years before and she was a big help to me, just giving me feedback if the workouts would be good or not and she helped me from the start because I came (with) a very short notice; I arrived the day before the first practice, so she helped with the first ones and she organized everything and I just have to be there.

“They are all super nice. I love that.

“Being here for two months, doing orienteering and going to see the Canadians, it’s incredible.”

Sanguino applied to study for her Masters in Product and System Design in Norway and has just been accepted into the program.

Sanguino said she would like to come back to the Yukon.

“I hope so. I really want to. It’s an amazing place. And I especially want to come in the winter, because I want to feel what it’s like to have a real winter, not a European winter.

Dino J. Dotson