On the 2nd March, the Milestone Institute’s Debating Society hosted the annual National Qualifier to choose the competing team who will be representing Hungary at the esteemed International Competition for Young Debaters (ICYD) in Cambridge organised by the University of Oxford and Cambridge Student Union.

Please read the review below by the President of the Debating Society, Sophie Dara. You can also view the ranking of the Qualifier as well as the final debate.  

It’s a Saturday afternoon early March at Milestone Institute. As I am waking up the stairs (out of breath as usual) with Atina Krstanovic my fellow judge, I hear an excited, yet unusual mumbling coming from the top floor. Stepping in the door, just on time, I see familiar and an equal amount of unfamiliar faces in the common room, students who are ready for the upcoming intense day of debates.

The reason that more than twenty teams from all over the country showed up at Milestone last Saturday is the National Qualifiers for the International Competition for Young Debaters or ICYD for short. Students aged 15 and below came with the ambitions of becoming the national team representing Hungary in Cambridge this April. However, only one team could win.

To determine the team most deserving of winning we had three rounds from noon spanning to the evening, with professional judges. The hectic first round had six simultaneous debates with 44 competing participants going on, with the motion This House Would Ban Smoking in Public. From this round, the best sixteen teams got into the second round with the challenging motion that THW Legally Require Children to Financially Support Their Parents in Old Age.

To end the qualifiers came the final round, with the top four teams debating the motion: This House Would Pay Benefits to Families According to their Child’s Performance in School. The teams in the final rounds were Kovács and Kovács from Fényi Gyula Jezsuita Gimnázium, Nitschlegend from the Deutsche Schule, AMA from BISB and Deák Téri Evangélikus Gimnázium and Deontology from GGIS and Lauder Javne. For the judges, the decision did not come easy, as two of the teams had the same amount of points. After about twenty minutes of contemplating and heated discussions, looking back at scores from the previous rounds the winners were decided.

Even though all debaters and judges were tired and exhausted by the end of such an eventful day seeing the faces of the winning team light up with joy when we announced their names as winners made it all worth it. The winning team was Kende Kovács and Máté Kovács (Kovács-Kovács) from Fényi Gyula Jesuit High School Miskolc. As judges, we were thrilled to see how talented and skilled the Kende and Máté were, and we are proud to have selected such a  competitive team and have all the confidence in them succeeding in Cambridge on 27th April.

Overall, we are grateful for more than forty students showing up and competing so fiercely at the qualifiers. We are heartbroken that only one team can be selected this year, however, are thrilled to see you at our weekly sessions on Saturdays and upcoming qualifiers. As the leaders of the Debating Society, we were extremely impressed by the quality of debates witnessed on Saturday and would encourage all participants to view this as the beginning of their journey as young debaters, rather than the end of their enthusiastic preparation.

Lastly a huge thank you goes out to our judges who contributed to the professionalism of the event with their knowledge of BP judging at a variety of Budapest universities, and Eszter Jókay, the Student Life Coordinator, for helping us organise the event. We hope all the participants enjoyed the Qualifier as much as we did and are inspired to join us in our quest in creating a debating culture in Hungary. A reminder for those who might be disappointed upon the result: ‘Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn’ and we hope that all participants learnt that debating can take you places.

The Milestone Debating Society’s sessions are open to any student in Hungary, please join their facebook group for more detail.