In 1964, a group of Swedish orienteerers, introduced orienteering in Belgium. At this occasion they gave a "Dalarna" horse figure as a present. This horse is still used as a trophy for a challenge between Belgian clubs.
It took some years before orienteering spread through the country. The first clubs started in the southern (French speaking) part of Belgium, and in the eastern (German speaking) part. In the north, where we speak Dutch, the start was rather slow and difficult. Some clubs started but disappeared rather quick.
In 1977 the club K.O.L. (Kempische Orientatie Lopers) was founded. This was in the same period where Belgium changed into a federal state. To get support from the government, a regional orienteering federation had to be formed, separate from the existing national federation. For this purpose, the very young club was divided into three separate clubs in 1978. At that time the following clubs existed :
- K.O.L. = Kempische Orientatie Lopers
- OMEGA = this club still exists and has his seat in Diest
- O.C.L. = Orientatie Club Limburg
In the early eighties K.O.L. and O.C.L. became one club. Since then several new clubs appeared;
The working area of K.O.L. is a region called the "Kempen". The region is situated in the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg, the northeastern part of Belgium. The soil is sandy and some hundred years ago the "Kempen" was a poor agricultural region with vast heather- and moorland.
In the beginning of this century, coal was found in the province of Limburg. This fact, and the gradual expansion of the Antwerp harbour brought industrial activities to the region. In the beginning mostly coalmines and metallurgy industries. On one side, the industries provided work, on the other hand they caused a lot of soil pollution and mutilated the landscape.
A good example of this polluted areas is situated in a city called Lommel. The place is known as the "Sahara". Our club has made a map of this region.
An other consequence of the mining activity was that pine trees were planted everywhere. The tree can easily live on a poor ground and gives excellent wood for the mines.
After the second world war, industrialisation continued faster and faster. Gradually the "actual" Kempen developed. A region with a dense population, a lot of primary industries, and very little open space. Most of the open space is planted with pine trees, especially the sandy hills.
Perhaps this is unique in the world of orienteering. Every year, around Saint Valentines-day, the ladies of our club, and only the ladies, organise an orienteering event. They do everything from the planning of the courses, through the actual competition day, till the making of the results. If you dare to doubt the abilities of our female members (I don't ) come and look for yourself. It will be very difficult to find even a minor mistake.