You wouldn’t want to cross these youngsters in a debate. Al-Taqwa College students Zohra, Aliza, Nazmin and Sara have enjoyed a winning year on the debating circuit, winning 27 out of 33 debates and taking out the Debaters Association of Victoria statewide tournament, the highest accolade they can receive in their year level.

The grade six pupils all joined the debating team this year with the exception of Zohra, who started out last year.

Nazmin said for the state championships, the team had to prepare debates for two topics given in advance – mobile phone usage should have an age limit (which they argued in the affirmative), and households which don’t recycle should be fined (negative).

They also had to debate on an impromptu topic, beauty is better than brains (negative).

“Thank God we were negative for that one, because we seriously did not know what to say,” Nazmin said.

Aliza added: “Sometimes, impromptu speeches are kind of better than your prepared speeches, because you did it all yourself without having any background knowledge about that topic.”

Zohra said: “And it also helps you to think on the spot.”

The team said they were thrilled to have won the state title.

“We were all trying to compose ourselves, but we were all screaming in the bus [with excitement],” Nazmin said.

The group said self-confidence was the key to being a good debater.

“You’ve got to have passion in your speech to catch their attention … and give it your all,” Sara said.