It is time to talk about some incredibly positive things. A couple of weekends ago our Women's International Team placed third in the European Championships and thus qualified to play in the premier Women's tournament in 2007, the Venice Cup, which will be held in China. This is a great achievement for the players concerned and I would like to add my congratulations to them.
These ladies are the present. Some of that team have already achieved wonderful success, including a World Championship and a multitude of other achievements. I am sure that there is a lot more to come, but it leads me to the weekend just past.....
During the last weekend our excellent Education team, ably led by John Pain and Alison Nicolson put on a wonderful weekend in Loughborough for our juniors. Along with a group of unsung heroes, both parents of juniors and numerous volunteer EBU members, a group of juniors ranging from 8 to 20+ years old gathered together for teaching and training, to play bridge in many different forms, to bond together as the international teams of the future, and to ensure the future of bridge in England.
What an uplifting experience.
Our new Under 20 squad manager, all of 26 years old himself, Michael Byrne, was there to help our future international stars develop. The superb junior squad management were there in force as well, providing an excellent developmental weekend for our youngest and, in the future, best players.
At the same time these people were doing what we all need to do. They were helping to ensure that the game of bridge has a future in this country. Our wonderful game is assailed on all sides by the very many different things that are available for people to do with their time. Our youngsters are able to participate in a wide variety of activities that should really exclude a card game generally, but wrongly, considered to be an old person's activity; but they don't all do that and with the loving care for the game displayed at Loughborough by our energetic members they have laid the ground work for the future European and World Champions that England will produce.
I am quite sure that this past weekend I met, and perhaps even played against, a future International star for England, including an 8 year old! I am not sure if they will be male or female, if it will be in ten or twenty years time that they will emerge and do it for their country, but do it they will. And, what is more, I also spent the weekend among a group of people who will ensure that our game will live on, despite the problems of the present. Some of the juniors will, unfortunately, not be internationals in the future, but they will all play bridge at a high level. They will run clubs, teach others, work for the EBU and do a myriad of other things; all because of the dedication of a handful of current EBU members and our limited, but highly professional staff.
All EBU members should be justly proud of our juniors and the people who work with them; they are the cutting edge of the future. I challenge our members to be positive for the benefit of all involved in the game in our country - for the future benefit of bridge players in England.
That is why the EBU exists. The future is great. Be positive; help our fellow members, especially our juniors. Watch them grow into future Bermuda Bowl and Venice Cup winners, as well as the club committee members of the future.
Thanks so much to everyone involved.