February 2016 English Bridge 67
February 2016 English Bridge
THERE are four junior squads in England.
They are there to coach aspiring young players
across the range of age groups. The U15s (led by
Sarah O'Connor), U20s (Michael Byrne), U25s
(Alan Shillitoe) and U25 Womens (led by a recently
appointed Sally Brock). The aim is to train and
select teams for the Junior European
Championships that takes place every two years
and, if they qualify, for the World Junior
Championships in intervening years. There are also
smaller events throughout the year that aid training.
All of these are a great experience - travelling
around the world, visiting fantastic places while
playing the game they love and making friends.
The squads are open to any juniors who are
interested in attempting to improve their games and
represent their country. Each junior has to sign a
contract stating they will abide by the squad rules.
In return, the squads undertake to provide training
and instruction. Squads will have about half a dozen
training weekends a year at locations around the
country. These will feature a combination of
technical exercises, instruction and play with
analysis afterwards. Many sessions will also feature
guest tuition from top players who kindly give their
time to help.
In addition, members may be granted free entry
to selected national events to practise against good
players. Squad members are also expected to work
and practise by themselves - playing locally, reading
and using the internet (such as BridgebaseOnline).
Anyone logging on will frequently find England
Juniors in the bidding rooms!
Alan Shillitoe (2nd from right) with the team in
France for the second Paris Youth Open 2015
Chris Derrick, Nick Dean, Tommy Brass, Sean Mekie
England Under 15s inish well against an
experienced ield in the Czech Republic
One greatly treasured aspect is the number of
friends that players make. Being in a team trying to
win championships creates bonds and friendships
that last long after the bridge (and indeed the junior
squad) is over. The social aspect means there are
good times after the tuition and play has finished.
If you are an aspiring junior and you want to try
to take your game to the next level, then get in
contact with your prospective squad leader. The
contact details can be found on the youth section of
the EBU website. They'll be delighted to help you
take the next steps on your great Bridge journey! r
U25s coach, tells us about joining the English
youth squads click