Young South American Service Members Compete in Sports Tournament in Chile
By Dialogo December 08, 2015
One hundred eighty students from military schools in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru participated in the First South American Tournament 2015 of Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) Schools, an event that promotes military values such as camaraderie, friendship, mutual respect, and patriotism.
The tournament, held October 19-25 in Chile, was organized by the Chilean Army’s NCO School with the support of the National Defense Sporting Confederation (CODEFEN, for its Spanish acronym) and the South American Military Sports Union (UMSDA). The competition’s events – Military Pentathlon, Orienteering, and Target Shooting – correspond to future officers’ military training.
“The sports competitions simulate obstacles that a service member might encounter in a real-life combat situation, where the service member would need to employ those skills and abilities to meet the challenge,” said Captain Ricardo Guzmán, from the Chilean Army NCO School.
Each event featured separate competitions for men and women, as well as individual and team categories.
Chile’s women won all three events, with Peru’s men claiming the title in the Military Pentathlon, Ecuador’s men winning Orienteering, and Chile’s men taking first in Target Shooting.
The Military Pentathlon is a training event for Battalions of Paratroopers, Commandos, tactical divers, and patrols from the different branches of the Armed Forces. It consists of five parts: swimming obstacle course, rifle shooting, grenade launching, a land obstacle course, a four-kilometer cross-country race for women, and a 12-kilometer race for men.
Target shooting is an Olympic event divided into rifle shooting for men, and pistol shooting for women. Orienteering, which could become an Olympic event in 2020, originated as a military exercise in Scandinavian countries at the end of the 19th Century. It’s a timed race normally across natural terrain that’s dotted by numerous posts or markers in locations unknown to the contestant, who must identify them using a compass and map. The course’s number of markers, length, and terrain are determined based on the participants’ level of skill.
Sporting events at Chilean Army facilities
The First South American Tournament of NCO Schools took place at different Chilean Army facilities, such as the Military School, the “Vicealmirante Patricio Carvajal Prado” Shooting Range, and the Army NCO School, all in the city of Santiago. Competitions were also held at military facilities in Pichicuy, in Region V-Valparaíso, and in Picarquín, in Region VI-Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins, where teams trained before the event.
“A well-organized tournament,” said Brazilian Army Sergeant Josimar Amaral, who was part of the Brazilian delegation but did not compete. “It can be seen in infrastructure, technical support, the good level of athletics for the training schools, and their joy in participating in this competition.”
“Being able to compete in these first games with our colleagues from partner nations at such a high level was a great experience,” added Chilean Army Corporal Katherine Urrutia, a member of the Military Pentathlon team. “It’s unforgettable.”
The service members complemented the event by participating in a series of cultural events that included visits to historical sites in Santiago, such as Altar de la Patria, where the tomb of the liberator, General Bernardo O’Higgins, is located; Cerro Santa Lucía; Plaza de Armas; and the seat of government, Palacio de la Moneda.
At the end of the first tournament, the director of the Chilean NCO School, Army Colonel Marcelo Núñez, recognized all teams for their commitment and dedication in training their athletes.
“The past few days were full of tough competition, and each student gave his all without abandoning camaraderie, fellowship, or sportsmanship,” he said during the closing ceremonies on October 25.
Created in 1952, the UMSDA consists of members of the Armed Forces from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Its mission is to strengthen ties among the Militaries of the member states through the performance and participation in sports activities.
“They competed under the highest international standards,” said Surinam’s Army Major Arnold Bikerdijk, UMSDA’s chairperson. “This was also an excellent opportunity to foster camaraderie among the Armies of the Southern Cone.”