How athletes are gleaning support from coaching programmes at US Esports Academy
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How athletes are gleaning support from coaching programmes at US Esports Academy

How athletes are gleaning support from coaching programmes at US Esports Academy

In an exclusive interview, Johan van Breda, CEO of US Esports Academy shares their current innovations in the esports infrastructure

Divsha Bhat
US esports academy

How do you see the growth of the esports ecosystem in the Middle East?
Esports in the middle east have all the critical ingredients for tremendous growth. We have seen massive strides in recent years, especially in esports’ upper tiers and corporate realms. This growth has been evident with the increased quality and frequency of significant and international events. However, an essential element that will push the next development phase is the endorsement and support from local governments and organisations. The Arab Esports Federation and national federations like Emirates Esports have been pivotal in this regard.

In the UAE, the government actively supports the movement through events like the Tolerance Games, economic development through projects like AD Gaming, and pioneering global commissions and initiatives such as the Global Commission for Tolerance and Coexistence in Gaming chaired by Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, cabinet member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.

Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud, president of Saudi Esports Federation, is spearheading an excellent initiative, Gamers without Borders which is now into its third iteration. The PIF acquisition of MTG assets along with Facit for 1.5bn also shows the commitment and recognition of its value for the region.

It was good to see Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahayan, president of Emirates Esports Federation and Prince Faisal sharing the floor at this year’s Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) at Dubai Expo, discussing the power of unity within this space. It was evident of the close ties between the two nations and the intent of greater collaboration.

What are the current esports and gaming trends you are witnessing in the Middle East region?
We see a lot of corporate and top-tier esports development. There are many investments into global esports from the region, and often we see publishers and event organisers extend a presence or programme into the region. Like with the rest of the world, there is an increasing need for grassroots development to support the expanding growth that has happened at the top level. In addition, the incorporation of esports and gaming into education has captivated the world, especially in recent times. As a result, I predict there will be a rapid adaptation within the middle east of esports in schools in the coming years, fuelling new generations of local athletes and audiences.

What are the innovations you see in the esports infrastructure?
The most pivotal innovation for the region will be LEO satellite internet services. Reaction times are critical for competitive esports. Any increased latency experienced by players, especially around the Arabian Gulf, provides their competition with an undeniable advantage. LEO satellite internet will enable players to bypass the ground-based fibre network and compete with their global counterparts on an almost level playing field.

Tell us about US Esports Academy and your coaching programmes.
The US Esports Academy is the product of more than seven years of development, research, and constant refinement. As a result, our remote progressive coaching pedagogy provides the most comprehensive esports academy programme. We have meticulously modelled a system of coaching that combines all the traditional benefits of long-term athlete development (LTAD) with a STEM approach to coaching esports. As a result, our programmes are all officially accredited educational experiences. Today we provide curricular supported coaching for over 20 game titles spanning all popular platforms.

How do your coaching programmes benefit athletes, and how is it different from the rest?
Traditional sports are great vehicles to generate opportunities for youth. Our programmes are no different. We have placed nearly a hundred students into high school and university scholarships through our programmes, increasing every year. We have created these opportunities by being a collaborator on every level, from the regulators and operators to the schools, universities, parents, and students themselves. We have created a revolutionary model to provide esports in schools while seamlessly integrating within standard education structures. Our coaching programmes have a unique approach that utilises a holistic focus on development. This model has been refined since 2016 and supported by our curriculums – all structured according to our 21st-century learning standards.

Can you brief us about your partnership with Challenger Sports?
Challenger Sports is the largest sports camps provider in the US. Over the last 30 years, they have been pioneers in connecting America’s youth to soccer. The partnership was a natural fit, with Challenger’s established structures and experience establishing programmes designed for the US market. In addition, recent data is coming out to support a symbiotic relationship between physical sports and their virtual counterparts. To this end, we actively research and develop new opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration.

What is your advice to those looking into entering the gaming or esports space?
Gaming and esports are immense and diverse, but even at it’s grand scale, it is built on a community foundation. Because of this shared passion and community, there is immediate common ground to build relationships and initiate conversations.

Read: US Esports Academy signs strategic partnership with Challenger Sports

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