U16 & U21 teams for China selected

The England U16 and U21 teams to compete in the 2018 World Youth Team Championships, in China in August, have been selected.

The teams will be:
U21s - Sam Anoyrkatis & Theo Anoyrkatis; Harry Madden & Kripa Panchagnula; Liam Sanderson & Daniel Winter; NPC Michael Byrne
U16s - Jasmine Bakhshi & Henry Rose; Jamie Fegarty & Liam Fegarty; Oscar Selby & Andy Cope; NPC Giorgio Provenza; coach Laura Porro.

Giorgio has written a new blog, with updates on the U16 squad's training and on their participation in an online competition organised by the WBF. You can read it below.

We are delighted by the number of members, clubs and counties which have made a donation to the fundraising effort to support the four England junior teams which will be competing in China, but there is still a long way to go. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time to make a donation, and all contributions, of whatever size, are gratefully received. See here for more details.

A couple of months have gone by since last time I got in touch and a lot has happened along our way to China.

The biggest piece of news is surely that the team for the World Championship has been announced. It is with great pride that I introduce you to the U16 team that will compete in Suzhou from the 8th to the 16th of August. The fab six are:

Jasmine Bakhshi
Andy Cope
Jamie Fegarty
Liam Fegarty
Henry Rose
Oscar Selby
Together with me as NPC, the coach will be Laura Porro.

In preparation for the WC we have entered a new online competition organised by the WBF for U16s. With 13 teams signed up – many of them qualified for China – it is the perfect opportunity to fine tune our preparation for the big show. In this event I was allowed to select eight players, so on top of the six already mentioned the team has been made stronger by:

Dido Coley
Roland Bourne.

If you want to put a face to the names you can do so here.

With a mix of “veterans” (Jasmine, Andy, Oscar, Henry) and debutants (Jamie, Liam, Dido, Roland) we started our adventure playing against Italy. Who else could have been the opponents for the first match under my captaincy? The team showed no mercy for my fellow compatriots and after 14 boards the score was England 88 – 10 Italy, which meant 20 VPs to start the campaign.

Next in line was Israel, silver medal at last year’s European championships and a force to be reckoned with at Junior level over the past few years. It was a much tougher match, with the Israelis taking an early lead. Our team fought back and a double digit swing on the last board meant another victory, England 32 – 27 Israel. That was just enough to stay top of the leader board.

Third match was against Sweden, another team that will be in China. Our kids were on a roll and the Scandinavians could do little to stop them. England 43 – 21 Sweden.

As you can imagine, there have been a lot of great plays in these first matches. Check out this brilliant defence against Italy by Henry (onriquez) and Roland (Malkar155):

Shortly we will be facing China Taipei. You can follow our progress on http://youth.worldbridge.org (I warn you though, the website is pretty messy and finding what you are looking for is not always easy).

The last weekend has seen the whole group attending a training event in London, once again courtesy of Young Chelsea Bridge Club. Including some new recruits, we had 23 kids attending.

As usual, together with me there were Laura, Meena and Alan – without whose help I wouldn’t be able to run an event with so many kids at different stages of their learning path.

Some parents and grandparents lent us a very welcome hand to run things smoothly. A special mention to Anthony Harris who picked up the pizza that was the highlight of the first day!

After two days of very hard work and – I hope – fun as well, we wrapped up with a fun bridge quiz. A question for you: do you know who is the only honorary Life Master of the ACBL?