Hertha Berlin’s development programme shows esports isn’t a passing fancy

The rise in popularity of esports over the last few years has seen many football clubs expand their reach into new areas of the sport.

We’ve seen Schalke 04, AS Roma and Paris Saint-Germain set up dedicated esports teams, joining leagues and even entering in other esports titles in some cases. The natural fit that EA Sports’ FIFA series provides to these football clubs is only part of the story for Schalke, for example, who compete in the European League of Legends Championship Series.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen some more developments that appear to bring football clubs beyond their initial introduction to esports through FIFA and into something a little bit new.

Football games still appear to be the best fit for football teams, of course, as most clubs haven’t ventured into crafting teams for other esports titles like clubs such as Schalke and PSG. But last week, German club Hertha Berlin made history in the country by becoming the first Bundesliga team to launch an esports academy.

The intention is to scout young talent at tournaments held by the club for 12-to-18-year-olds and bring two to four into a programme hosted by the club, where they will be educated in digital media as well as developing their skills on FIFA18.

That shows a long-term commitment to esports by a top-tier football club in a way that we haven’t really seen before. Moreover, the last year or so has seen plenty of big-named clubs, who many thought would attempt to push their involvement in esports even further, take their foot of the gas somewhat.

The speed with which esports has come to mainstream consciousness perhaps makes us think that it should keep growing at the same pace. Maybe that’s unreasonable, especially when it comes to organisations like football clubs attempting to find ways to get involved properly. But Hertha Berlin’s commitment to developing young talent just as they might develop footballing talent is perhaps as good as any evidence that football clubs’ involvement in esports isn’t just a passing fancy.
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2018 Digital Sport Trends Report

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 597 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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