Jennifer ‘PixiePoppins’ Briggs does not let disability get in her way. The Welsh athlete proved that when she participated in her first big international tournament earlier this year, despite being severely short-sighted and struggling with hearing loss. The Rocket League star has one simple message
“It might be harder for us but if you keep trying you will be able to get there. I hope I am some sort of role model for others.”
That was the rousing assessment of Jennifer Briggs, who competed for Wales under the moniker PixiePoppins at this year’s inaugural Commonwealth Esports Championships (CEC) in Birmingham, Great Britain.
Participating in the CEC Rocket League competition was the culmination of a dream: Briggs had set herself the target two years ago of representing her country in esports.
“I saw some videos on YouTube and started playing,” she said. “I didn’t really know what the Commonwealth Games were as we’re not really into sports at home. I kept forgetting the name of the competition and told my parents I had to go somewhere during summer.”
Briggs’ father, Steve, continues the story: “She said she wanted to do a competition which meant we had to go to Cardiff for the day. Of course, that was fine for us. But a few days before, she got a T-shirt in the post that said Wales on it and we thought ‘what’s this?’ We were a bit concerned because we didn’t know what she was getting into. But we looked it up and found out it was the Commonwealth Esports Championships. It meant more than just going to Cardiff.
“We certainly had our challenges in Birmingham. We didn’t know whether she could use her own headphones or if the monitors would be good enough for her to see. But the manager of the Welsh team has been really good to try and accommodate things. Jennifer wasn’t there for the medals but we are really proud of her achievements and the road she’s had to get there.”
Jennifer couldn’t agree more with her father: “There have been a lot of ups and downs. At home, I play on a huge monitor. It was hard to change to a smaller screen and have to work together as a team. I sometimes struggled to hear my teammates but we used short comms. We tried not to use similar words, so I didn’t get them mixed up. We also called out where we were on the field of play.
“I struggle seeing name tags or when someone is on the other side of the field. I don’t always realize where I am on the field of play and around my teammates. But together, we made it work.”
According to Briggs’ father, that’s an achievement in itself. “Two years ago we told her it was basically impossible to do this all,” Steve said. “She’s really short-sighted, has hearing loss. We tried to be gentle and supportive, but she kept trying. She entered some leagues online and just wanted to go for it. It’s been fantastic to watch her play and make some fantastic saves. She’s got a long way to go and says she wants to come back in four years’ time.”
The Global Esports Federation’s flagship event - Global Esports Games - showcases several renowned multi-genre global titles, which are open to all. Taking place in Istanbul from December 15-17, players will battle for medals in DOTA 2, eFootball™ 2023, PUBG MOBILE and Street Fighter V: Champion Edition.
Briggs has shown disability is not a roadblock to playing esports at the highest level. Esports gives people with disabilities the opportunity to play together - anyone can compete against anyone here.
“I didn’t even know if I could do the competition at all,” she said. “But the team helped me and encouraged me. I just wanted to represent my country, and to show that having a disability doesn’t mean you cannot do something.”
The second annual Global Esports Games – Istanbul 2022 Global Esports Games – will be staged at the Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center, Türkiye. Tickets are on sale. Visit Istanbul2022geg.gg for details.