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Commonwealth Esports Forum raises curtain on first-ever Commonwealth Esports Championships

Esports athletes, gamers, fans, government ministers, tech founders, academics, Olympians, innovators, and influencers: an array of fascinating figures were present as the Commonwealth Esports Forum opened the Commonwealth Esports Championships in style

Speakers and special guests with the CEC Trophy, dedicated to the people of West Midlands at the inaugural Commonwealth Esports Forum. In photo, from left to right: Katie Sadleir, Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Games Federation. Dame Louise Martin DBE, President, Commonwealth Games Federation. Councillor Ian Ward, Birmingham City Council. Chris Chan, President, Global Esports Federation. Paul J. Foster, Chief Executive Officer, Global Esports Federation. Andy Street CBE, Mayor of the West Midlands. Ranil Jayawardena MP, UK Minister for International Trade. Matt Hammond, Chair, West Midlands Growth Company. Alice Dearing, Olympian, Gamer, British Esports. Photo by: Global Esports Federation

A series of panels took place in the conference hall arena at the International Convention Centre (ICC), Birmingham, covering topics including Esports Role in a #worldconnected, Esports: Focus on Great Britain & Commonwealth, Business, Technology & Education, Equality & Inclusion, Esports, Sport, Music & Entertainment, Youth Connected, and The Future.

Elsewhere, the Innovation Showcase allowed visitors to enjoy active esports technologies provided by GEF’s partners Refract Technologies, Init Esports, and the World Freestyle Football Association.

Enthusiasm could not have been running higher, as athletes and officials to the ICC finally got to see the venue in all its glory.

“I walked into that arena and you look at the lights and feel excited - people are pumped,” said Katie Sadleir, CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation. “This is my seventh Commonwealth Games, from being an athlete to being an assistant Chef de Mission to looking after the government’s investment in sport, and so I’ve seen a lot – but Birmingham has really turned it on.”

“Excitement has been building about putting something different into the mix at the Commonwealth Games, and I’m really looking forward to working with the wider team about evaluating this. We have a long-term partnership with esports and we’re looking forward to where we can take this next. My nephew is a gamer and was asking where to watch this. I really understand the excitement.”

Paul J. Foster, CEO of the Global Esports Federation, agreed. “It has exceeded our expectations, it has been remarkable,” he said about the first day. “Here we are in parallel with the Commonwealth Games. The partnership with the CGF was born from an idea to be connected and help each other, and our individual ambitions and goals. When you speak to the players and athletes and our federations, I feel that we have exceeded their expectations.”

Chris Chan, President of the Global Esports Federation, couldn’t agree more. “It is like giving birth to a new kid, to be here as it happens is just amazing,” he said. “I think this event is a spark that we hope will light a fire. More things will come.”

“In the UK, the political leaders are excited about doing this, and I think esports will grow from here. I have enjoyed listening to this forum because there is an international perspective, so we can see where we are growing or not growing. We are targeting places like Africa.”

“I have enjoyed Birmingham, the venue has been amazing. I’ve been here for two weeks, and if I stay much longer I will have a Brummie accent!”

Chris Chan, President of the Global Esports Federation declares the Commonwealth Esports Forum and the first-ever Commonwealth Esports Championships open.

Dame Louise Martin DBE, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, stressed the importance of youth to the event.

“We want to be growing the under 30 age group in the Commonwealth Games, and a lot of people in that age group play on games consoles, and we want to capture that,” she said. “We think this is a place for young people, and I already know that the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago are hoping to include esports.”

“I’m really excited, and I’m looking forward to being back tomorrow to watch the athletes – and that is what they are, athletes. The hand-eye coordination and mental dexterity you need to play these games, that is sport.”

Andy Street CBE, Mayor of the West Midlands, was similarly optimistic. “People said it can’t happen and it won’t happen, but here we are,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for this for some time. We started talking about doing an esports competition at these games three years ago, so we could give a lift to esports, and also cement our position as a leading place for these sports.”

“It's a pleasure to be in Birmingham to celebrate the fantastic depth and breadth of esports talent from across the Commonwealth. I'm delighted to see so many competitors, creators, and innovators from our great global family of nations,” expressed Ranil Jayawardena MP, UK Minister for International Trade.

Street even got to drive a virtual car as part of Init Esports. “I wasn’t very good, but it was very real. It was pretty hard and I crashed. I won’t be winning any medals at it, but it was incredible. But I do recognise that there will people at this event who suddenly feel the Commonwealth Games is relevant to them, whereas previously they didn’t.”

The Commonwealth Esports Championships continues on Saturday and Sunday, 6-7 August, as 12 different nations from the Commonwealth face-off in the quest for medals.

Don’t miss the opportunity to catch the action LIVE in Birmingham. Get your tickets NOW. Stream LIVE on Global Esports Federation Twitch and YouTube channels.


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