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February 2016 English Bridge 67

February 2016 English Bridge

www.ebu.co.uk

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

Alan Shillitoe

U25s coach, tells us about joining the English

youth squads click

link

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