Start a team

Guide for National Team Selection
July 2010

Drafted by Beth James (Wales), Sherria Ayuandini (Indonesia), Claire Ryan (New Zealand) and Hayah Eichler (Israel)

The ideal way to select a national team would be to host a mini WSDC tournament which would allow every debater in the nation to “strut her stuff” in front of your very best judges, who would not only judge debates, but would also have their eyes peeled for really great potential. This is, obviously, nearly impossible, particularly for very large nations, with lots of debaters, few trained judges, and even less money, so that’s where we come in!

This document provides some options for choosing your national debate team. Different nations and cultures present different obstacles to this challenge, so we have tried to offer a few alternatives, drawing on our on experiences. If you find yourself stuck at any point, please feel free to contact any member of the WSDC Tournament Executive Committee at this address [email protected] – we are all here to help!

Getting started

There are a number of questions to ask yourself before deciding on how to plan your national selection. How big is your nation? Is debating new to your nation? How well do students in your nation speak English? What type of selection would you like to hold? How many students debate? How many schools or extra curricular groups do you expect to be involved?  How many judges do you have? Will you select the team coach before or after the team selection? Who will be involved in the selection? Where will it be held? Are you going to allow all your debaters to compete for a spot, or are you only interviewing those with the best debate records? The questions are numerous and we’re going to try to sort through all the options one by one.

Assembling your organising committee

The first step to organising a selection process is to set up an organising committee to administer it .If you are starting completely from scratch and do not already have a national debating organisation, then a small group of keen people, most likely school teachers, university students,, WSDC or WUDC alumni and others, can constitute an initial committee. It is very likely that, over the years, this may evolve into a national organisation which has a constitution with its own rules and elected officers but, to begin with, all you need is a few willing individuals, some enthusiasm and a vision.

If your organisation is already established you may look to the same group of people to form your selection committee or appoint a separate committee specifically for this purpose.  Such a committee may involve representatives from your national debating organisation and, possibly the team coach. Additional people involved may be former debaters and any experienced WSDC judges you have available. Even if all your committee doesn’t have debate experience, different people can bring different things to the table such as the ability to generate sponsorship or publicity which are also important roles. You may find that any teachers who have set up their own school debate clubs are a useful resource and may have the enthusiasm to help on a national level.

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