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Debating Competition : December 21

I had the pleasure of taking a debating team to the Stroud Museum to debate the slightly obtuse question, ‘What should be the main legacy of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022?’ It has been two years since we last debated and I might have hoped for a more interesting question but once the children get stuck into these things and the debate heats up, the original question becomes almost irrelevant.

We started this process a few weeks back with all 90 children in Year 5/6 engaging in some quick fire debates with trite questions like, ‘Is a hot dog a sandwich?’ and ‘Brooms for arms or rakes for legs?’ They then all researched the Commonwealth Games and came up with arguments and counter-arguments and counter-counter arguments. The team who entered the competition had to work on some pretty high end public speaking skills (learning their speeches, using cue cards and practicing their presentation) as well as prepare for the ‘battle’ to follow preparing their challenges for the other teams and their responses to possible challenges to them.

The debate was a brilliant experience for these children (as was the build-up for the rest of Year 5/6) – watching them thinking furiously and together in between phases of the debate was a joy to behold. Ultimately the debate boiled down to a heated and protracted stand-off between Minch and one other school. Some of the come-backs and moments of quick thinking on show were magnificent to behold. The other team came through victorious but not without quite a battle. Well done to all of 5/6 and to Robin, Elizabeth, Jacob and Arthur who represented them on the day. Here find a link to the 2 speeches and the conclusion from the debate.

Speech 1

On this side of the house, we believe that the legacy should be sustainability. What could be more important than our wonderful environment?

And yet our environment is dying, and as Kate Raworth says in her book, doughnut economics this is because of our blind focus on growing the economy. What’s the point of the economy if the world is going to be underwater in 10 years? The only fitness we’ll be able to do then is swimming!

There are 5.25 trillion micro plastic pieces in the sea without another 14 million tonnes being added each year. Since 1930, when the Commonwealth games started, we have let over 65 million, yes 65 MILLION plastic bottles, be thrown away. This is utterly UNACCEPTABLE and has to be changed. DO YOU EVEN CARE ABOUT THE POOR TURTLES DYING FROM PLASTIC IN THE SEA?!!!!

The aftermath of many sporting events is a sea of plastic waste as athletes and spectators attempt to stay hydrated by drinking from soon-to-be discarded plastic bottles. The London marathon did its part in reducing plastic waste by swapping 200,000 water bottles with edible seaweed water pods that biodegrade in weeks. The Commonwealth Games needs to do even more and take this to another level.

In conclusion, the legacy should be that the commonwealth games should set a precedent by being an environmentally friendly sporting event so it will  inspire all of those watching and competing to help save the environment  and to encourage other big events, like the Olympics and the World Cup, to change as well. So i say the world should work together! Do it for future generations! Do it to keep our environment alive! Do it for the world!. And do it now!!!

Speech 2

As Jacob just said we need to act now- this is the heart of our argument- the Commonwealth Games must respond to the urgency of the climate crisis- all other considerations regarding legacy must be secondary to this. We haven’t got time to mess around. We need to act now if we want to save the environment; we need to become more sustainable and eco- friendly before it’s too late.

Governments across the world are aiming to bring down their carbon emissions to try to save the planet….high profile events like The Commonwealth Games must lead on this – which is why the committee are aiming for Birmingham 2022 to be the first carbon neutral games. They aim to plant a “Commonwealth forest” to offset their carbon usage and benefit the area for years to come. Critically they aim to support long-term sustainable behaviour change and the way all games are run in the future. They will look to use less water in the showers, waste less food and source energy for the games from renewable sources like solar energy or wind turbines. They will encourage responsible means of travel to and from the games (such as public transport and active transport) -to reduce congestion, improve air quality, and improve health and wellbeing.

There is a deep irony that this other team are considering economic benefits to a well off nation like ourselves as the key legacy when it is the commonwealth countries, many less wealthy than ourselves, who bear the brunt of the climate induced catastrophes.  It is even more ironic that this other team talk of sport given swimming will be the only sporting pursuit open to us when the world floods.

I cannot believe any other legacy was considered at this point in the history of our planet- I find it irresponsible and blinkered– we need all hands on deck for this climate emergency and The Commonwealth Games must join the battle for our survival.


I believe the legacy should be sustainability. This is because, as my teammates have said, sustainability is the only thing you will ever need to focus on unless you want there to be a massive flood and for everyone to die in like 10 years or something. The Commonwealth games must lead by example. If they do not, people will think that sustainability doesn’t really matter, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, there are people in this room that believe we should be focusing on the economy when our focus on the economy is what has gone a long way to ruining our planet. Another thing that we should not be focusing on is fitness in the community, especially when studies have shown that big sporting events only really make us do more sport for about a week. If we don’t act now to save our planet, the only sport we are going to need to do is swimming when the whole world floods. And back to the economy team, tourism isn’t good. I used to live in London and tourism ruined it. It became overcrowded and all these tourists polluted London which is why I had to move. If the Commonwealth games focused on sustainability, it may help in the fight against the horrific effects of the climate crisis. And that is why sustainability should be the legacy for the Commonwealth games.


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