Lyceum Debaters make it to the Pakistan Nationals Camp.
The Lyceum’s Debate team showed unbelievable growth and determination by reaching the semi-finals of the 2020 Raziuddin Sheikh All Pakistan National Debating Championship. In the largest and most competitive nationals of all time, the team of Aimen Memon, Anam Fatima Areesha Saif, Muzammil Kamran and Ummehani Murtaza were among the final four teams in the tournament. In addition to this, Anam Fatima, Areesha Saif, and Muzammil Kamran Sattar (who finished as the 10th Best Speaker of the country) all qualified for the Pakistan National Team selection camp where they will compete for the chance to represent Pakistan at the World Schools Debating Championship.
This is the best performance in the school’s 8 year history of attending the senior nationals and a remarkable achievement in and of itself, but the context in which it was attained makes it even more so. 4 out of the 5 members of this team had never done parliamentary debates before their A Levels (making them the least experienced team in the top 8, let alone the top 4). The last time that Lyceum qualified for the national knockout rounds was in 2013 when they made the octo-finals and this is the first qualification in 6 years of attendance (2018 was not attended), to get to where they did they eliminated well established teams such as LGS 55 Main Campus (former champions and last year’s semi finalists), Beaconhouse Liberty Lahore and former Champions, top ranking team and one of the most formidable teams in the past half decade Beaconhouse Defense Campus Lahore. Having joined Lyceum as coach at the same time as the A2’s in this team, it has been a genuine pleasure to watch them grow at such exponential rates from a point where they were considered the ultimate underdog team which hadn’t even attended the last nationals to being one of the best in the country in just a year and 3 months.
The students showed immense character by not letting difficult circumstances define them, balancing their rigorous academics and defying all expectations, I could not be prouder of each and every one of them. This would have of course, not been possible without the support of our wonderful Patron Mrs Shereen Khan, Mr Shahriar Ahmad, and the incomparable Ms Amal Mujahid who helped the team at every turn, in every way they could.
– Mahad Akbar
Perhaps the main drawback of getting to participate in Nationals from the comfort of your room is missing out on the pleasantly cold Lahori nights, the daily takeout and the memorable getaway with friends. Entering the tournament, feeling a little antagonistic about missing out on a unique experience, we did manage to create matchless memories at Nationals in the forms of hours of procrastination on the Zoom call a night before Nationals, complaining about just how hard A2 life is, when we were supposed to prepare cases for upcoming rounds, hypothetical scenarios of what we would be doing if we were in Lahore, and from beating the best Lahori team, Beaconhouse Defence Campus in the quarter finals, to all of us landing in the top 40, headed to Pakistan International team selection camp, we left our mark at Nationals.
Due to COVID-19, this year at Nationals, the best 24 teams were announced, 8 of whom directly progressed to the Octosfinals, while the next 16 had to compete against each other to reach the Octos. We weren’t even expected to make it into the top 8 but thanks to round 4 where a sociology based topic, “This House believes economic class is more important than other forms of identity”, where all my sociology notes were finally of use, we beat Beaconhouse Liberty Lahore and made it into the 8 best teams, being the first Lyceum team in the last 6 years to break at Nationals.
The credit of all of this goes to one person, the person who coerced us into daily practice sessions before Nationals, gave us detailed post-debate feedback, never complained about repeating himself 20 times for us to understand something, helped us build up our arguments till the very day of the tournament, sent us motivational and strategic voice notes before every match, and most importantly, believed in us throughout: Mahad Akbar, our coach. We didn’t manage to get him the Nationals win, but if it weren’t for him, we would be farther than two debates away from the win.
This one’s for Mahad, and this one’s for the dream team: Anam, being the “best speaker internationally” and the glue holding our team together, Muzzammil, being the “content hog”, forcing the judge to raise our scores with his unparalleled style, Hani, being the “Mom” making sure we had our cases right, Aiman, the “economic advisor”, putting down our case so we could strengthen it, and me with my constant “case batao guys”— this one’s for being so close to a Nationals win and this one’s to the awaiting Pak camp.
– Areesha Saif