Growing up, many children and teenagers dream of playing video games for a living. In 2017, that has become more of a possibility due to the popularity of eSports, with many football clubs and sports teams launching their own eSports teams.
Eredivisie side Heracles have decided to go one step further, starting a training academy to allow young gamers to progress through the ranks like footballers before competing with the main squad.
Their first class includes six gamers aged between 13 and 19-years-old, who will be coached in eSports by Heracles senior eSports player Bryan Hessing, using a specially designed centre called an eBox, which allows 36 players to play FIFA 17 (and shortly FIFA 18) at the same time.
The academy will represent Heracles at eSports events as a club, while the individual players will have a chance to progress to the senior team. One of the new trainees, Rik Weits believes that himself and the other inductees will make history.
"I am convinced that the Heracles ePlayers will create history," Weits told Heracles' official website.
"The developments indicate that eSports is only increasing. I feel honoured that I belong to the first class at Heracles Almelo. I will make every effort to represent the club as best as possible, including in tournaments."
Heracles' football team finished the 2016-17 Eredivisie season in 10th position, missing out on qualification to the European competition playoffs on goal difference behind Groningen and Heerenveen.