Esports is the newest addition to the Herzlia Innovation Centre’s Entrepreneurship Think Tank, ESTEAM lab, Makerspace, ESTEAM curriculum and extra murals. Introducing Esports at Herzlia exposes pupils to new, in-demand career opportunities in the gaming industry which is expanding at a rapid rate. 

Michael Vorster, Head of Innovation at United Herzlia Schools, says “this is more than simply teaching technical skills to future proof pupils for modern world careers. Esports also presents pupils with a chance to learn collaboration, teamwork, communication, problem-solving and critical thinking skills while having to work together as a team and experience a sense of belonging.”

Marc Falconer, Herzlia High School Principal, says “we can pretend this gaming world, which is so compelling for our children, is part of another reality for them far removed from the classroom and the world of learning, or we can see that this is our (and especially their) new reality and look for the educational opportunities and find ways to engage our pupils in responsible, thoughtful ways that make learning not only possible, but enjoyable, meaningful and constructive. The increasing ubiquity of AI and the virtual world that our children are increasingly the citizens of is not diminishing. Quite the opposite; the boundaries and influence of this virtual world is expanding. The current statistics show that revenue generated from online gaming alone is growing at 31.7% annually.”

“While this is already a growing trend in schools and universities globally, what is unique at Herzlia is that our goal is to integrate Esports into Herzlia holistically as well as by linking this programme to physical sports and activities where all pupils who participate in Esports will be required to participate in some form of physical exercise which is an important element in developing a healthy body and mind,” explains Shane Brorson, Senior Deputy Principal Herzlia High School and Head of Sport.

Andries van Renssen, UHS Executive Director, adds that “I am delighted to see the enthusiasm and support from both pupils and teachers for this exciting addition to the Herzlia offering. We are deeply grateful for the financial injection received from the Abrahamson/Fleischmann family to make this project possible. We believe this to be a game-changer, particularly for a school like Herzlia that is unable to participate in Saturday sports leagues. An incredibly fast and reliable fibre link ensures that our competitors see us as a force to be reckoned with.”

Competitive Esports differs from recreational gaming in the same way traditional sports competitions differ from playing ball casually with friends. It focuses on developing the skills and expertise to compete in real-time video game tournaments. The project kicks off with Gr 7-12 pupils and will grow to include primary school. Herzlia’s Esports lab will be utilised during the school day for project-based learning that will include 3D design, video editing and real-time simulations. 

Herzlia will compete through the African Cyber Gaming League (ACGL) and Inspire Drone Racing League against schools and universities in SA. The ultimate goal is to compete internationally in the biggest Esports leagues.