QF keeps the skills of Qatar’s young debaters sharp amid COVID-19
As QatarDebate team equip themselves both for the Online World Schools Debating Championship (OWSDC) and the World Schools Debating Championship in Mexico City, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have won Helsinki Online Open Debating Championship as part of the team's preparations to compete in the international tournament.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions imposed to combat the virus, Team Qatar which was set to represent the nation at the Online World Schools Debating Championship (OWSDC) has now been postponed.
Team Qatar’s intensive training has been taking part online, including sparring against other national teams – such as those from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – and getting acquainted with the online tournament by taking part in the Helsinki Online Open Debating Championship earlier this month.
The Helsinki tournament showed them that hard work pays off, as they went on to win the championship, with Alanoud Al Thani being named the Best Novice Speaker as well as the 8th Best Speaker Overall prize.
Image: Alanoud Al Thani
The championship consisted of 56 teams and featured some of the best university debate teams from across Europe, including those from the London School of Economics, Imperial College London, Trinity College Dublin, University of Glasgow, and the University of Edinburgh, as well as universities in Berlin, Utrecht, Tallinn and Stockholm University.
Reem Al Kubaisi, who has been part of the QatarDebate community since 2017 said, “We feel like they are once again re-learning how to use Microsoft Teams, which is the platform we are using for online debating ’’
Image: Reem Al Kubaisi
“But we have come a long way since our first online training on March 16, when the group discussions were centered on ‘how do I create a Teams profile’, ‘can we access it using our personal email accounts’, and ‘how do I upload my homework’, as well as finding it cool that we were able to use different backgrounds!”
Having been selected in January, the team trained bi-weekly up to April, with three sessions a week. This has been stepped up in July, with online sessions every day except Fridays.
Team Qatar member and Al Bayan Secondary School for Girls student Moza Al Hajri, who is part of both the English and Arabic national debating teams said, “While I truly miss the atmosphere of pre-COVID-19 training, where debates were more heated and everyone would interact more passionately in discussions, meeting via Microsoft Teams is not so bad and we are still able to have good and efficient training sessions. I am quite enjoying the online training and look forward to the online tournaments since they are giving me something to do in my seemingly never-ending free time!”
Image: Moza Al Hajri
“It’s a great way of coping with the pandemic in a debating sense,” said Moza. “I think it will be a unique experience that will have its positive sides, and also its difficulties to overcome. I am really enthusiastic about it, and I can't wait to debate different topics with teams from all over the world.”
Amid the new reality of the pandemic, the members of Team Qatar say that as well as managing to continue their training, stay motivated, and sustain their work ethic, they have also become closer as a team supporting each other through this unusual shared experience – and embracing it.
Team captain Alanoud Al Thani said, “ This has been quite an experience. Having been a part of Team Qatar both last year and this year, I can see the differences and challenges involved in moving everything online. However, I feel we have managed to rise above the challenges, and with the support and guidance of our coach and Qatar Debate, we have not only made the best of things given the circumstances but have had a fun learning experience along the way.”
The OWSDC and the World Schools Debating Championship in Mexico City which was due to be held this month but has now been postponed until January.
The organizers of the World Schools Debating Championship have given their endorsement for the OWSDC, to be held from July 17 to August 2.
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Source credit: Qatar Foundation