On an early Saturday morning at E-Soccer, I learned for the first time how to kick a soccer ball, playing a simple game called “topple me coconut”. I was four years old when I first attended my first session. I was part of the “Rising Stars” group. Participating in E-Sports, specifically the culture of inclusion, changed how I viewed the world. During the session there was no distinction between the players. We all simply were learning to play the game.
I have been a participant, peer coach, and now one of the head coaches for E-Soccer. Even after 14 years it is something that I am still passionate about. Participating in E-Sports has helped shape who I am today.
E-Sports contributes to typical children’s development. It trains children to become influential leaders with strong character, optimism, courage, and opportunity.
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
The choice to serve others in E-Sports develops strong character. Learning to understand and appreciate differences in special needs children takes patience, humility, and perseverance. Through simple measures, such as teaching a child to dribble, stretch, or cheer for others, I built character. My character was built through realizing my purpose was more than myself. My purpose was to use my own talents and skills to help others.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -Winston Churchill
Both typical and special needs children often face difficult limits. However, special needs children often have more noticeable limits or difficulties. The ability to encourage children to overcome their personal limits, whether big or small, takes optimism. I have found that the most joy comes from helping and encouraging children that are often not believed in. Teaching children regardless of their limits encourages both them and their families that they are important, special, and believed in.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” -Anais Nin
The choice to promote inclusion takes immense courage. E-Sports not only expects those participating to learn how to include others but also how to practice inclusion outside of the program. Especially for myself in high school, special needs students were often ostracized from the typical student body. The courage I learned participating in E-soccer pushed me to make changes in my own high school.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams
The character and courage built from E-Sports programs influenced me to become a leader. In high school, I participated in student government and acted as a liaison between the special needs and typical student body. I promoted a variety of inclusive events on campus including dances, Special Olympics, buddy lunches, and many other events. The strong pursuit to see inclusion on my own campus came from learning the importance of inclusion at a young age.
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” -David Frost
Not only has E-Sports influenced my character, but it has also helped me be successful. I gradually built up soccer skills through recreational and club soccer to play on a nationally ranked soccer team. I graduated from high school as class valedictorian with leadership awards and scholarships. Currently, I am on the pre-med track at University of San Francisco and participate in E-Hoops on campus. However, I strongly believe these achievements and successes did not come from my own talents and drive. The character built through E-Sports has provided me with these opportunities, ultimately helping me become successful.