The World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) is the annual debate competition where the best school debaters from all over the world face each other, holding on to the dreams of representing their motherland on the big stage. As per tradition, the Bangladeshi contingent, after a rigorous selection process, sends the top five debaters among hundreds who compete to represent the Bangladeshi flag on international grounds. This year, the competition was hosted in Zagreb, Croatia.
For the first time since 2006, Team Bangladesh qualified for the octo-finals of this tournament by ranking 7th in the preliminary rounds among all the debating nations. They further made history by making it to the quarterfinals of the tournament, where they got knocked out by Team India in 6-1 split decision. This year's team consisted of Jubayer Ibn Hamid of Scholastica, Bishal Podder and Debojyoti Biswas of Sunnydale School, Sreyan Kanungo and Towseef Hossain of European Standard School. Sreyan Kanungo was ranked as the 10th Best Speaker in the English as a Second Language (ESL) category, a title that no Bangladeshi debater has ever achieved before – a monumental success for Bangladesh. He says, “I've lived through this dream of my name being called out on the biggest stage and for it to come true feels surreal. Although I was fairly disappointed that we couldn't reach greater heights, we hope to reach bigger milestones in the coming years.”
Debojyoti Biswas, who attended WSDC for the first time said, “It's the dream of every Bangladeshi debater to be a part of Team Bangladesh and represent the country on an international stage. This year I had the privilege to be the youngest member of the team and learn so much along the way.”
Travelling to a country in Europe has a hefty cost and every year owing to the lack of sponsorships it's an incredibly daunting task for the Bangladeshi team to participate in this grand competition. Fardeen Ameen, the Chair of Bangladesh Debating Council says, “Every year these brave kids and the coaching staff go through copious amounts of sacrifice with a common dream for glory. This year with the support of our sponsors Independent University Bangladesh and with rigorous practice and tenacity, they have shattered glass ceilings of wealth, language, and race to make our country proud.”
This year's team was coached by Asif Mehedi Adi from North South University and Sajid Khandaker from IBA, Dhaka University who were also members of the Bangladeshi debating team in their school years. Coach Asif Mehedi Adi says, “I've had the opportunity to represent my country twice as a debater and in both situations I've fallen short. Ever since then, it's been my dream to coach team Bangladesh and I'm proud and happier than anyone else that this team made my dream come true.”
He hopes that institutions in Bangladesh recognise the potential that Bangladeshi debaters have and actively contribute and support their students in terms of achieving their dreams. Unless we have a good balance between studies and extra-curricular activities, it's extremely difficult for these talents to flourish.
It has been good year for Bangladesh in terms of its debating successes and hopefully, the years to come will be of no exception.