“A challenge we greatly embrace” – Community Interview with the Novi Sad EUDC hosts

Datum: Mar 29th, 2018
Category: International, Menschen, Mittwochs-Feature, Turniere

As announced on our international facebook page we planned doing an interview with the newly elected hosts of the EUDC 2018 in Novi Sad. Everything has happened rather quickly since the former hosts from Edinburgh declared their problems with hosting the EUDC 2018 and we wanted to give the community the opportunity to ask the questions they had in mind. So we ended up having a conference call with Jovan Petronijević, the convener, and Miriana Muntean, the logistics officer and asking them a bunch of question you guys had sent in. 

Jovan Petronijević, convener - © Novi Sad EUDC

Jovan Petronijević, convener – © Novi Sad EUDC

Achte Minute (AM): Hello there! Great to have you here!

Jovan Petronijević (Jovan): Hello!

Miriana Muntean (Miri): Hi there!


AM: Let’s get right to the questions, beginning with introducing you: Who’s the team behind the Novi Sad EUDC and how did you end up together?

Jovan: Well, I guess we best start with me. I’m Jovan Petronijević, the convener. I’ve started debating in 2012 here in Serbia, since the EUDC back then. Since then, I’ve been to quite some international tournaments. I also won some of them. But apart from that I’ve spent a lot of time organising debate events, like the Arandjelovac Open or the Pep IV over several years. So when I heard about the possibility that we could need a contingency EUDC, I was really excited about bringing that to Serbia. And it actually worked! Being able to bring the EUDC to Serbia again is a challenge I’m really looking forward to, and I will do my best to see it run smoothly.

Miriana Muntean, logistics officer - © Novi Sad EUDC

Miriana Muntean, logistics officer – © Novi Sad EUDC

Miri: I’m Miri. When I heard about the Novi Sad project and Jovan planning it, I offered my help. At the beginning I still intended to speak there and just intended to help a bit with the start, since I believed in Jovan. But over time I ended up being the logistics officer. My job is to see that everything runs smoothly that isn’t directly related to the debates at the tournament. For building up a team the tricky part was that we needed to function as a team and get a lot of very different things moving from literally day 1, with no room for errors or delays – things already come up organically that delay us, like the bank account opening that had to happen only after finalizing the registration of the organisation, so we sent the invoices later than we would have wanted to. I’d say we picked people who are competent in organization and have lots of experience with debating tournaments, to understand every detail that falls into organising such a big event. The second really important considerent was the chemistry in the team, so we picked people we already knew very well and have worked with well to not waste time on surprises – plus we don’t have time for traditional team building. And that’s how we ended up with our current team.

Jovan: Apart from us we have Stela Braje, who is our tournament director. She also has a lot of organising experience around the balkan region and will be Miri’s counterpart, looking at everything directly related to the debates themselves. In charge of the registration process, which you likely have already seen in progress, are Ela Jurko and Matea Bogdan. Both have already been organising different events in Zagreb. I think they are doing a good job so far. And finally, as volunteer officers we found George Hames from Oxford and Sanja Kuzmanovski from Belgrade. All team members are also dedicated debaters themselves, of course. Oh, and more org comm members will be announced in the process, of course.


AM: How did you decide to do an emergency bid?

Jovan: Basically, when we saw that there are potential problems with the Scottish EUDC we started thinking about “Could we somehow run this EUDC?” and the major problem was that this has to be done in less than 5 months. So, after that, when we actually acknowledged that it is feasible, we considered locations – should it be Belgrade? But after some consideration we thought that it would be much more beneficial for the circuit if this will be held in Novi Sad. So, Novi Sad is emerging as a debate city, but they are still in the beginnings, so we thought that after an EUDC in Novi Sad the same as with Belgrade would happen and we will get 5 to 7 new debating societies around Novi Sad with this EUDC. After we decided to do it in Novi Sad, we contacted the Novi Sad business school, who are doing BPS at the moment, and after we contacted them and asked they pretty much wrote “What do you need?” and after having this institutional support everything was much easier. So, to summarize this into two main points, the first is that we really believe it will be very beneficial towards expanding debating outside of Belgrade. The second main thing is: The challenge in running the EUDC in less than 5 months is a challenge we greatly embrace, and it makes us very excited.


Stela Braje, tournament director - © Novi Sad EUDC

Stela Braje, tournament director – © Novi Sad EUDC

AM: How solid is your funding and financial planning?

Jovan: At this point we have a really strong budget and we don’t see anything that could cause us major problems. We still have some minor issues in budget projection but they can’t disturb a smooth running of the EUDC.

Miri: So, what Jovan just said is under a 0-sponsorship-funding but we are also working on a series of sponsorship possibilities and I’m quite confident that some of those will actually happen.

Jovan: I agree with Miri 100% on this, it’s just that we won’t announce anything before it’s actually secured. That’s why we didn’t bring that out before.


AM: If extra money became available, what would you use it for?

Jovan: The idea is that we want to spend part on IA [Independent Adjudicators, editor’s note] funding, part on the scholarships and part on the tournament, like more international volunteers, improved socials or even better food.


AM: What will the team cap ultimately be?

Miri: Right now it’s at 220.

Jovan: Yup. We’re working on expanding it 232, but we won’t confirm anything until we have secured there’s enough rooms, accommodation, etc.

Miri: Basically, we’re waiting to see how many more rooms will become available in the hotels, and based on that we’ll be able to expand.


AM: Isn’t it a bit unfair that people have to register their delegations before anyone can possibly know whether they’ll be offered an IA spot?

Miri: So, first note: The actual individual registration is going to happen much later. Secondly, most institutions have gotten one spot, maximum two, so presumably trials needed to happen earlier anyway. Thirdly, institutional judge spots can be bought at a later date as well if said person wants to judge. And lastly, that’s how it has always been done, so I don’t really see why this is an issue.

Jovan: I agree with Miri on this.


AM: Will people be allowed to sell team spots?

Miri: No. So, I’m aware of the incentives this creates but we aren’t allowing it because of the chaos that else might happen. Our registration team will do their best to cooperate with teams, but unfortunately team slots are not refundable and cannot be sold.


Inside the Novi Sad Business School - © Novi Sad Business School

Inside the Novi Sad Business School – © Novi Sad Business School

AM: Why did you decide to keep the CA team? They will certainly do a great job, but given the change in location, haven’t the demands, like the composition of teams or the judges attending, changed? Isn’t the team as put together much more able to rank and judge IoNA than Eastern Europe?

Jovan: This is not how the CA team is composed, CA and DCAs are chosen based on quality and a holistic regional representation. Furthermore, one of DCA’s is from Serbia so they pretty much know the Eastern Europe judges. I think, especially having seen how much effort they have put into the tournament so far already that they are a competent team and that they will be able to select people competent to judge here as well.

Miri: We also don’t really think that the work of a competent CA team, as this one certainly is, does begin only 6 months ahead of the tournament. They are all very active on the circuit, I am sure they will be able to rank judges competently.

Jovan: We have full confidence in our CA team and don’t think that any change would actually be beneficial.


AM: How to best travel to Novi Sad?

Miri: So, first of all, we have put a page especially for that on the website, so you will easily find detailed information, but summed up there will be three bigger airports around: Belgrade, obviously, Budapest and Timisoara.


AM: Since Serbia doesn’t use the Euro and looks comparatively cheap in prices, how many Serbian Dinars is reasonable to bring with you in cash for the time of the tournament?

Jovan: That depends on what is reasonable for you. You will have free transportation to the rounds, if you have no other needs. Then, the drinks at the socials will be subsidized and thus cheap, so I think about 50€, which is about 6000 Dinars, would be fine, but it all depends on what else you want to do in your free time.

Miri: From my experience as a foreigner, it might be wiser to bring Euros and exchange them in Serbia, because there’s exchange possibilities on every corner in Serbia, but it’s hard to find Serbian Dinars outside of Serbia.

Jovan: I totally agree, just exchange them here.

Miri: It also doesn’t make a difference what sum you exchange, so you can always just exchange what you need here as you go.


AM: Given the competition’s accommodation will be in 2 separate hotels, will delegations be placed together in the same hotel?

Jovan: Yes, 99% yes.


A room in the Novi Sad Hotel Leopold - © Hotel Leopold

A room in the Novi Sad Hotel Leopold, where part of the participants will be accommodated – © Hotel Leopold

AM: What is the schedule, especially for the first day: Similar to the proposed for Edinburgh?

Miri: The schedule is going to stay on the structure of a normal EUDC schedule. The 30th will be the arrivals day. We will release the schedule pretty soon. The only thing keeping us back is that by council decision there should be around 20% of the participant pool in the break. This can result in a differing number of out-rounds. With ESL teams being able to double break it’s theoretically possible that a team takes part in every single out-round, and there is a maximum of 4 rounds per day for a team, so we need to ensure and communicate with the CA team which schedule is best.


AM: What kind of socials are you planning?

Jovan: It’s just been one month since we got the honor to host the EUDC. Thus, we didn’t do much about the socials yet, this will come in the next months. We just want to ensure the basic things first before we move on to the socials.


AM: Any visions you can already share?

Miri: We do a lot checking before we sign into anything, especially since it’s wedding season and a lot of things are booked or partly booked, so we are very careful and only announce something once we have completely secured it.


AM: What plans do you have in place for participants with access issues?

Miri: We’ve spent a while now researching everything that falls into that. We’re appointing one person who’s job will be to gather all the data that could be necessary – and keep it confidential. We’ll also have one member of the org com in contact with them, who makes sure that everything will be ready. There will also be some kind of troubleshooting team, to make sure we can handle things that arise or just get reported at the competition. We will also be releasing a guideline of what we think will be necessary and people will be able to add to that what they think is missing.


The Lobby at the Novi Sad Hotel Park, where the other part of the participants will be accommodated - © Hotel Prk

The Lobby at the Novi Sad Hotel Park, where the other part of the participants will be accommodated – © Hotel Prk

AM: Will there be livestreams from the rounds?

Jovan: We are working on that, on the livestreams. There is also the idea to prioritize the quality of the recording over actual livestreaming, since livestreaming often means that the quality of sound our video gets poorer. Both are options we are currently exploring.


AM: What are you most looking forward to for Euros?

Miri: For me it’s the arrival’s day. Firstly, because at that point everything will be set up and running. And secondly, that’s my favorite part of every major tournament, because you will get to see all the people you haven’t seen for some time.

Jovan: I would like to add that seeing EUDC Novi Sad itself is something I’m actually very much looking forward to.


AM: What are you most excited for?

Jovan: What I’m most excited about are two things: Firstly the scholarship, allowing people who else couldn’t attend, to come. Secondly, that we’ll most likely be the most inclusive EUDC ever in terms of countries attending.

Miri: For me it’s also the scholarship program.


AM: Finally, some not so tournament-related questions. We had more of those, but decided not to take them all. Anyway: What’s your favorite color?

Jovan: *laughs* Blue.

Miri: Uhm… red, I guess? Pink maybe?


AM: Who’s your favorite member of the CA team and why?

Miri: This is a trap! You know it’s a trap! But I guess I have to answer? So my answer is this: Whoever sends me the most cat pictures, starting to count now!

AM: Jovan?

*Jovan mysteriously disappeared. We decided to blame Serbian internet.*


AM: Well, I guess we end here anyway. Thank you two for the interview and good luck with the EUDC!

Conducting the interview was Lennart Lokstein.



Mittwochs-Feature: Every Wednesday the Mittwochs-Feature features an idea, interview or book regarding debate – usually in German, sometimes in English, sometimes both. If you would like to do a feature regarding a certain topic please mail us your idea to team [at] achteminute [dot] de.

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