Esports, gaming, racing seats, virtual reality - in countries like the United States, China and South Korea, it is the 'now'; here, it is the future. Volendam resident Dirk Tuip, who worked with Johan Cruijff at the Johan Cruyff Institute when the master was still alive, is taking advantage of it. He responds to the development of the new world and got companions and the municipality of Purmerend on board. Last week, Tuip and another former top handball player of Kras/Volendam, Matthijs Vink, unveiled their plans under the name H20 in sports hall De Koogmolen. In six months' time, this location will have undergone a metamorphosis and the Netherlands will be able to experience the largest eSports Stadium in Europe.
Realising the largest esports centre / arena in Europe
The leases have been signed, the building permit submitted and the demolition permit obtained for the building next door where hundreds of students study. Tuip: The plans are three years old, but the idea has been around for six years. What started life as an IT & Tech campus."
SearchUser and FacilityApps
Our online marketing agency SearchUser has been around for ten years, and the software company Facility Apps was created later. We have two groups of employees: marketers and programmers and that makes for a very special combination. Especially when you mix them. One of our employees was doing during his break what programmers so often do: they eat a sandwich and watch a game, live or a summary. I find that very special, because my partner Matthijs and I were active top sportsmen. I also saw a counter with figures that were in the seven million range and that kept increasing. I asked what that meant: it turned out to be the people who were watching live worldwide. That got me thinking."
ESL One and Gamescom at the Koln Arena in Cologne
Afterwards, I went to the biggest games fair in the world, in Cologne, Germany. Then you think: which boat have I missed here? Or rather: which cruise ship did I miss? Then I visited the ESLOne, one of the biggest esports competitions in the world, and went to the biggest esports stadium in the world, in America. Then all the pieces of the puzzle fell together. All our programmers play games and it would be great if we could develop them into eSporters. Actually, that's what literally happens in sports."
One third of the population is gaming and so many people play sports. In the end, everyone is trying to improve themselves through training, coaching and competitions and perhaps reach that stage that is only open to a few."
I go to the biggest games fair in the world and then you think: which boat have I missed here? Or rather: which cruise ship?
Creative tech, ICT and digital marketing
,,What we also started working on was creative tech. The basis of our office had to be the ultimate working environment. Our accountant often says: 'everything is possible here'. We have a pool table, racing seats, a football table, a dartboard, we organise two boot camps a week. The new generation wants more, they want freedom and they want to be able to decide for themselves what they like to do. So you have to touch them. Our goal is to build an esports stadium here and train eSporters. In Europe we are really behind, but we can - like Ajax has succeeded - try to catch up from here. But this is also where the jobs of the future may lie. Because every industry is going to feel the impact of tech."
Collaborations were sought with people in Amsterdam who supervise eSports and gaming. And the municipality of Purmerend got sucked into it. Alderman Mario Hegger: ,,We can realise a dream here. It is not my world, but I was drawn into it and became enthusiastic. Because this offers opportunities. I even think that this building will soon be too small.
,,At first, the city council could not feel what we wanted to invest in, with the aim of renovation and initially somewhat lower rental costs; until Dirk came and gave a presentation. Then they got the picture and also saw the opportunities. If we don't take them, we will thwart a development that we will regret later."
Matthijs Vink is bubbling over: ,,After I played handball in Spain for ten years, Kras/Volendam brought me back to the Netherlands. And chairman Piet Kes and former player Dirk Tuip gave me the opportunity to combine sport with a social career. I hope that we can also inspire young people here and at our office and offer them opportunities they would otherwise never get. This plan is so well put together. We don't need to go to America to see how cool it is there. We can do it here."
It is a new world. A lot of people think something of gaming. But if you look at these people, they follow their passion and want to achieve everything with it. These boys and girls, who have a lot of followers on YouTube and Instagram, can influence the new generation by doing something good. And that's not just endless gaming in the attic, but coming here and developing themselves in whatever field they can."
Koen Schrobbers was the first professional eSporter of the Netherlands: ,,We are exactly in the week that game addiction has become an official disease. You can look at the disadvantages, because there definitely are. But the advantages are the skills that young people can develop here, which will prepare them for the jobs of the future. There is no training yet, there is no place. We can make that happen here. We can build a community here. Where companies, who would like to bring IT in-house, can establish themselves."
,,The game industry is bigger than the film and music industry, but the awareness is not. That can grow through what is going to happen here. In Korea, forty thousand people watch ten eSporters gaming the final in a stadium. I used to be excluded at school, seen as a nerd. Now I am presenting on TV, who would have thought that? I hope that many more children can pursue their dream.
We are still missing a piece of funding," Tuip concluded, "but I am convinced that the first eSports Stadium with an eSports stage and unprecedented LED lighting is going to be here."
This article appeared in Nieuw-Volendam, weekly newspaper in Municipality Edam / Volendam and was written by Eddy Veerman.