I like to argue… a LOT. Anyone who’s been connected with me on facebook for a few months will have realized this. Some have taken the step of blocking me from their newsfeed (you know who you are). Now , however, I may have found a healthier outlet for that argumentative side of my personality; I’ve joined a local team-debating club.
“Hmm,” thought I, “maybe now I’ll be too tired after debating in person to bother the people on facebook.” Let’s face it, most people online aren’t looking for polemics, just a space to kick back, relax, and share pictures of cats.
Turns out that I still argue on facebook but that’s okay because team debating has nonetheless proven to be a massively enriching experience. Testament to the power of Macra na Feirme’s ability to empower young adults with various skills and to develop their self-confidence.
After randomly hearing that the Carrigaline Macra club was looking for fresh meat to compete in this year’s national competition (Republic of Ireland), I decided to go with the cat-logic and give it a bash.
The dynamic of team debating is unlike anything I previously did at university. Never before did I have team mates relying on me, judges judging me, nor a strict pattern of proposing and refuting to follow. Never before had any of my debates put so much pressure on me to perform. At my first debate with the team, I thought I would come out of it giving this kind of impression:
But I ACTUALLY gave this impression:
I stuttered, I stammered, my whole body visibly trembled like this. I hadn’t learned off my points correctly. I went over my allotted speaking time of six minutes, automatically losing points for my team. What made it all worse is there was an audience to see it happen. Luckily, the rest of my team were of a high standard which pulled our average to a higher level than our opponents’, leading us to a victory over the Kinsale Macra team. Credit must also be given to Kinsale for a brilliant effort that night.
When an escapade like that goes so wrong in the way it did, you can do one of two things. Option one is to walk away, give up, and leave the memory to become nothing more than a source of shame. Option two is that you keep trying, keep working to improve yourself, and make memories that you never want to forget because they make you feel so fiercely proud.
So I chose option two and kept at it. But our next round was approaching fast and I had to improve massively to meet the challenge. There was only one thing for it – I needed a montage.
My own montage involved a practice debate against our coach and his crew of hardened cronies; meeting with the team to discuss tactics and arguments; hours and hours on my laptop researching, writing a speech, and editing it; and practicing my oration on all the local cats unfortunate enough to wander into my garden.
I’m happy to say that all that hard work and the exceptional hard work of my team mates payed off. We debated against Croom Macra from Limerick and we smashed it. No longer were we a group of four individuals. Now we were a dynamic quadrio working together to deliver one clear, consistent message and refute the arguments of our opponents. Croom Macra were themselves a wonderful team. They were tough cookies; great speakers with well laid out arguments. Luckily though, Carrigaline Macra proved to be the better prepared as we thundered through our speeches and went on to WIN!
Oh how the applause of the crowd felt glorious.
Our victory was extremely heartening. On a personal level, my ability to give a speech has improved beyond recognition. The confidence in my delivery has soared. One team mate remarked how proud she was of me to see how far I’d come since our first debate together. That made me feel… well….
More importantly is how energized as a team we now are. We all have issues we need to improve on and I think we can use this achievement as motivation to hammer them out together. We have to because our team is now among the final sixteen clubs left in the Macra competition on a NATIONAL level (yikes!). I’m glad I didn’t give up after that first hurdle I mentioned above, because now I’m determined to battle it out all the way to the finals and win it for Carrigaline. It’ll mean a lot of hard work, dedication, and stress – even then nothing is a guaranteed victory. But with a brilliant team alongside me, an experienced coach, and others along the way who are willing to give us all their advice and expertise, Carrigaline Macra will be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s competition.