GEF Board Member & Chair of the Coordination Commission, Aurelia Ruetsch (France) looks forward to a thrilling summer ahead in Katowice
The European Games Esports Championships (#EGE23) in Katowice, Poland this summer, is set to be a landmark moment for the esports movement.
Esports athletes will compete for their countries alongside 7,000 traditional sports athletes representing 48 countries at the European Olympic Committee’s 3rd European Games Kraków-Małopolska. They will have the opportunity to stay together, proudly wear their national uniform, compete for medals, and join in the Closing Ceremony.
It’s the perfect next step in the evolution of the profile and reputation of esports, and the Chair of the EGE23 Coordination Commission, Aurelia Ruetsch, cannot wait.
“I’m super excited, Poland is a European capital of esports, they have massive tournaments,” the Frenchwoman said of the event, which will run from June 30 to July 2. “It is exciting and interesting working with the European Olympic Committees (EOC). They are big on youth engagement, and you can feel they are really keen to understand this esports magma that is bubbling away.”
After the success of Birmingham’s Commonwealth Esports Championships last year, and the first two editions of Global Esports Games in Singapore and Istanbul, coupled with Santiago 2023 Pan American Esports Championships, Ruetsch is keen to show what Europe can produce.
“Europe is its own thing, so we want to try to take the best from these events,” said Ruetsch. “I don’t want to do a copy-and-paste event, that’s boring. We like to be creative. A lot of it will be about understanding. We know as GEF what we want to achieve. This is going to be a marquee event, shining a light on esports. We want to create these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the athletes.
“It’s important that we show people the entire esports ecosystem. People are starting to realize the scale of it. But we also need to realize how wide our scope is. At GEF, we start with esports performance, but end up talking about culture, education, safeguarding, music, technology and matters of health and wellness. It is limitless, and GEF is here to be a convening platform for that.”
Aurelia is well placed to lead the way, thanks to a deep understanding of, and vast experience within, sports administration. She started as a translator and interpreter, interning at the World Athletics Championships in Paris-Saint Denis 2003, and has since become a self-proclaimed “Games nomad”.
“I thought it was fun running around with a radio when all my friends were in offices,” she said. “I worked on the Organizing Committee for Athens 2004, my first Olympics, as one of 40 French translators.
“Then I worked for lots of organizing committees at big events, I worked with the Olympic News Service, I did media operations at Beijing 2008, then I worked protocol, looking after stakeholders. That’s getting the right people to the right place at the right time.”
By London 2012, Ruetsch was running protocol across all 10 venues in the center of the British capital, “working with Buckingham Palace, MI5 and MI6.” From the Queen to the real-life equivalents of James Bond, she knows how to get things done at the highest level.
She was also part of the team in Baku at the inaugural European Games in 2015, which was a “tremendous opportunity to be part of something new. I like going to new places and doing new projects. I’m thrilled to see another first, convening top-level esports competitions alongside traditional sports, celebrating youth culture in the heart of Europe.”
This brings us to the relatively youthful Global Esports Federation. “I love the newness, the freshness of GEF,” she said. “It is an opportunity to do things differently, to be disruptive but in a considered and positive way. We can create a new model, and I love the fact that everyone is welcome. The world is a big enough place, let alone the metaverse.
“I like that at GEF, we can build something different, with interesting and authentic people. When GEF convenes, you can have a proper dialogue.”
It all starts for Ruetsch in Poland this summer. “I was very honored for our President Chris Chan to ask me to chair the EGE23 Coordination Commission,” she said. “For me, it is a beautiful segue from working with the EOC and co-creating a new chapter, together. Delivering the first European Games Esports Championships is going to be a lot of fun.”