Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WSDC 2014: Best Team Indonesia Ever with 6 Wins and 16 Judge Points

Team Indonesia in WSDC 2014 at Assumption University Bangkok (l to r) : Riza Aryani (coach), Kevin Bonaparte (SMA 17 Makassar), Alif Azadi (SMA Modal Bangsa Aceh), John Amadeo (Raffles International School Jakarta), Regina Cara Riantoputra (SMA 2 Tangerang Selatan), Marsa Harisa (SMA 9 Yogyakarta), Subarkah Syafruddin (coach)
Team Indonesia advanced into the octofinals of the 2014 World Schools Debating Championships in Bangkok with 6 wins and 2 losses, the best ever record by the country's high school debaters. Indonesia had only broken twice before, in 2003 and 2004, both times with a 5-3 record in the 8-round mandatory stage. The 2010 team also won 5 times in the preliminaries but came short from breaking.

In the preliminaries, Team Indonesia defeated 6 European squads - Sweden, Greece, Romania, Turkey, Estonia and an English-as-first-language team Wales, which reached the final of WSDC in 2012. They only lost to WSDC 2010 champion Canada and United Arab Emirates. Team Indonesia broke as the 11th team on the list, equalling the rank of the WSDC 2003 squad. Indonesia's upset win over Wales made the latter fail to break in the end but it was not the only favourite that collapsed. Former champions Scotland and the United States also could not qualify into the Top 16.

Team Indonesia 2014 consist of Alif Azadi (SMA Modal Bangsa Aceh), Kevin Bonaparte (SMA 17 Makassar), Marsa Harisa (SMA 9 Yogyakarta), Regina Cara Riantoputra (SMA 2 Tangerang Selatan) and John Amadeo (Raffles International Christian School Jakarta). Their overall speaker score was quite high, indicating some of them may enter the top 50 speaker list. Only two Indonesians have entered that illustrious list - sisters Siti Astrid Kusumawardhani and Siti Soraya Cassandra in 2003 and 2005, respectively.

Their coaches are Australs ESL champion Subarkah Syafruddin, an Universitas Indonesia alumnus who guided Team Indonesia to respectable 4-4 finishes in WSDC 2012 and 2013, and his Australs teammate and fellow UI graduate Riza Aryani. The coaches fought for the provision of the fifth seat in the team for a debater who comes from outside the education ministry system of selection.

That fifth member, John Amadeo who comes from an English-speaking school, was an integral part of the success. The two girls in the squad, Regina Cara Riantoputra and Marsa Harisa, are well-known high school debating stars with numerous best speaker awards. Team Indonesia 2014 also had two non-Java debaters, Kevin Bonaparte from South Sulawesi and Alif Azadi from Aceh, who showed there should be no barriers for debaters in Indonesia to excel if they work hard to enhance their skills through rigorous training.

But this is not new. Non-Java debaters have been a vital part of the WSDC squads since Indonesia first joined the competition in 2001. The first Team Indonesia was even captained by a student from West Kalimantan. Time and again, non-Java high school debaters have proven they can compete with the rest. However, almost all of the non-Java WSDC debaters ended up debating for Java-based universities. This is the Indonesian debating world's brain drain issue that should start from making non-Java educational institutions attractive for these high school stars.

In the octofinal, Team Indonesia had to end their amazing journey in the hands of defending champions Australia, which later fell in the quarterfinal. Although WSDC 2014 has become the tournament of upsets with favourites exiting early, the semifinal debates had four English-as-first-language teams. The final will be between undefeated #1 South Africa, which is bent on becoming Africa's first WSDC champion, and #3 England, the three-time winner.

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