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An eye-opening dive into a booming recreational activity: European Grassroots Esports

By Maria Malyshkina, ISCA

At a kick-off meeting on 7-9 March described by our project partners as energetic, educational and even eye-opening, we dived into a new topic called European Grassroots Esports. Esports is rapidly booming as a recreational and competitive sport, attracting more and more participants at the grassroots level. That’s why this two-year Erasmus+ Sport Cooperation Partnership project has an important mission to remind community organisations to not leave young gamers behind due to stereotypes about gaming and esports, but to include these young people in grassroots sport’s value-based, social structure.

Despite a classic March snowstorm hitting in Copenhagen on day one of the meeting, the atmosphere of the multicultural and intergenerational kick-off was warm and inviting, launching the partners into their first collaborative brainstorming sessions. Esports and grassroots sport experts from Denmark, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Norway exchanged lively and diverse viewpoints on the project’s aims, target groups and positioning of esports in the grassroots sport landscape.

For a few activities we gathered the guests of this meeting together with the partners of our DigiFit project, which also kicked off over the same days at ISCA’s headquarters, and took them on a guided tour of local football club BK Skjold’s facilities.

It seemed like the visit to the football club set the tone for the discussions ahead, as the partners literally passed a real ball to one another, prompting each receiver of the ball to think both broadly and specifically about the ways in which the project can support the development of grassroots esports clubs in a European context. By combining the esports experts’ extensive knowledge of the subject matter and the grassroots sector experts’ knowledge of the community sport setting, we believe we will create the perfect recipe for a deeply insightful collaboration!

Focusing on laying of foundation for implementing grassroots esports across Europe, the project will map stakeholders, best practices and potential models of grassroots esports clubs. As the project also aims at enhancing awareness of the individual and social benefits of responsible, value-based esports, the project partners will produce 10 opinion pieces and a curated conversation to initiate exchange and open debate on the key benefits and challenges of grassroots esports.

We aim to build local clubs’ capacities to deliver grassroots esports activities through an online learning course and three national pilot actions that will develop grassroots esports clubs on the basis of the project’s findings. The partners will also deliver four national seminars on value-based grassroots esports as well as an international dissemination conference together with ISCA.

We hope the European Grassroots Esports project will make an impact by enabling local sports clubs and schools to reach out to young esports practitioners and gamers and include them in value-driven communities that provide them a chance to meet, play and learn how to lead balanced and physically active lifestyles. To find out why the popularity of gaming and esports among young people is an opportunity not to be missed, read the latest opinion piece by ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby.

Key facts about the project

Project title: European Grassroots Esports

Project period: January 2023 - December 2024

Co-funded by: Erasmus+ Sport Cooperation Partnerships

Grant amount: €400,000

Project partners: ISCA (lead coordinator), H2O Esports Campus (the Netherlands), Viken Sport Region (Norway), Hungarian Esport Federation (Hungary), DGI (Denmark) and play-eS-HanseSPIEL e. V (Germany).

Posted on 20/03/2023 by Maria Malyshkina, ISCA


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