On Saturday 28 February, eight boys from Year 9 and 10 competed at Imperial Juniors in an online debating competition. For several of the boys this was their first experience of competitive debating, although it was a rare junior competition for Alex and Fola, who frequently compete on the school senior circuit.

56 teams entered the competition and after three rounds of debating different topics, 12 teams would make it to a gold final, a silver final and a bronze final respectively with four teams starring in each. Before this competition Fola and Alex had never made it into a final..  

One motion they particularly enjoyed was a debate on whether countries with poor human rights records should be allowed to host the Olympics. Coincidently, the students had already debated this topic in senior debating the previous year and thus allowed Alex and Fola to more easily express many of the key arguments for the motion, revolving around pressuring these regimes to change and the detrimental harm it would cause to the civilians of the country, especially those who would be forcibly removed from where they lived to make room for stadiums and other infrastructure.  

In the end, all eight boys can be proud of their achievements. On speaker points, Fola came joint fourth, Alex came joint 14th and Toby came a very respectable 16th in his first ever competition, whereas Jack and Samadi finished just outside the top 30 speakers.  

As a result of their top finishes (2nd, 1st, 1st) Alex and Fola made it into the gold final – on the balance of the first three debates, they were ranked third – level on team points, and only six speaker points behind the team who ranked first in the preliminary debates. However, going into the gold final, Alex and Fola had finished above each of their three opponents when head to head with them earlier in the day.

For the final motion, they were placed in the shoes of a teenager and tasked with deciding whether they would attempt to turn in their corrupt parent who was a politician to the authorities. Fola and Alex were given Opening Government. Unfortunately, and through nobody’s fault, during the debate the Opening Opposition (directly opposite Alex and Fola) had serious connection issues. This meant that Alex had to repeat part of his speech, and it meant that the two teams speaking in the closing half of the debate had significantly more time to prepare.

In the end, however, Alex and Fola came in a close second to the team in Closing Opposition whom they had themselves beaten in the second round – in a decision which split the judging panel three to two. Nevertheless, we get closer to that significant step of winning a gold final at a major competition.