Football: Gamers let their feet do the talking in coaching clinic

A participant being put through his paces at a coaching clinic run by Premier League side Chelsea yesterday. A total of 16 gamers were chosen for the clinic, which is part of the club's bid to engage the community in Asia.
A participant being put through his paces at a coaching clinic run by Premier League side Chelsea yesterday. A total of 16 gamers were chosen for the clinic, which is part of the club's bid to engage the community in Asia. PHOTO: GARENA ONLINE

Gamers have a reputation for being unathletic. EA and Chelsea Football Club are putting this assumption to the test by integrating the online and physical worlds of football.

Young gamers have been flown in to Singapore from all around the region to participate in the EA Sports Chelsea Coaching Clinic yesterday.

Participant Ang Bin Sheng, 17, disagrees that gamers lead sedentary lifestyles. "My friends and I became interested in playing football because of online gaming. We formed a team and started playing and now we play twice a week."

"I think it is unfair to impose this stereotype on all gamers," said Ho Zi Qian, 18. "Just because you are a gamer does not mean you cannot go out and exercise. It really depends on how hard-working each individual person is."

Participants were chosen through a combination of in-game challenges and a video of them performing a skill from Fifa Online 3.

There were more than 3,500 videos submitted, out of which just 16 were chosen for the clinic, which aims to teach young gamers the parallels between online gaming and real football. Participants attempted to recreate skills found in the game before going through a tactical session.

Chelsea Foundation international development chief Ian Woodroffe hopes the clinic can further participants' interest in football.

"We want to encourage these kids to get a little bit more involved in the physical element," he said. "We are also hoping that this experience will help them make new friends, which is a big part of sport."

The clinic is part of the Chelsea Foundation's ongoing drive to expand its presence in Asia.

"We hope to develop pilot programmes like this clinic regionally or even globally," said Woodroffe.

"I believe football clubs like Chelsea, which have wide reach and exposure, have an obligation to try to engage the community. We want to use sport as a force for good."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 13, 2016, with the headline 'Gamers let their feet do the talking in coaching clinic'. Print Edition | Subscribe