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International Competition for Young Debaters 2014

On Saturday 29th March, four debaters from Hampton Court House and I travelled to the London round of the International Competition for Young Debaters, held at Imperial College London. Hampton Court House Team A was represented by Gabriel (Year 10) and Thomas (Year 10). Team B was represented by Haydn (Year 10) and Gerard (Year 8).

Students competed against other schools in three competitive impromptu rounds, with only 15 minutes in advance to prepare. Each room in every round consists of four team. Many schools were experienced debating institutions, and being the first tournament for three of our debaters and having merely started our debate club this year, we were firmly aware we were the underdogs of the tournament. I could see that the debaters were noticeably nervous before all three rounds. The motion for the three rounds were:

Round 1: THW ban gambling
Round 2: THW force clinically obese children to attend weight-loss camps
Round 3: THW punish parents for their children’s crimes.

The motions were challenging and fun, except perhaps the last motion, which drew exasperated sighs from Gerard and Haydn after being allocated to debate on the proposition. Nonetheless, our debaters did not disappoint! Both teams ended up with 6 team points, a mere 1 point away from the 7 points needed to guarantee proceeding to the Finals Day. Gabriel and Thomas came 1st in round 1 (giving them 3 points), 4th in round 2 (0 points) and 1st again in round 3 (3 points). Gerard and Haydn came 3rd in round 1 (giving them 1 point), but 1st in round 2 (3 points) and 2nd in round 3 (2 points). This gave both team a team ranking tied at 11th place, out of 64 teams that participated at the tournament.

Hampton Court House also did particularly well in individual speaker rankings. Noticeably, Gerard was ranked the 8th Best Speaker out of 128 students. Gabriel, Thomas and Haydn were all able to rank individually in the top third of the speakers at the tournament. This is a very encouraging sign for the first debate tournament for all three students!

It was a great day overall. All debaters woke up extremely early on a weekend to arrive at Imperial College on time. Despite the long day of debating (lasting from 8.30am until 5.00pm), we leave content and more motivated to improve. We certainly have learnt a lot from feedback of experienced adjudicators and from our failures. Most importantly, the debaters learnt the value of teamwork and not being discouraged by lower rankings in early rounds. We will continue to work hard and ensure our debaters bring this experience back to the benefit of the rest of the Debate Society!