Last week, four of our Grade 6 girls put on their dancing shoes, quite literally, and represented the FIS in the finals of the FUSE Cup Just Dance EU competition.
This was an EU-wide eSports tournament using Just Dance 2022, a popular motion-based dance video game. We competed against several German International Schools and the International School of Monaco, all qualifying from a pan-European list of participating schools.
For the past several months, the girls – Jolina, Gabriella, Shruti, and Priyankha – have been practicing during their lunch and breaks to get ready for the competition.
“It’s good exercise but also involves a lot of teamwork,” Jolina says about the multiplayer game. During each song, players mirror a dance performed by actors on the screen, and are awarded for their accuracy.
Jolina explains that the most crucial part of the preparation process has been the ability to communicate actively. “It was important to get to know each other better, so we could work together as a team,” she says.
Gabriella adds that this is a sport you can do with your friends, which is what makes it such a good experience. “You have fun. But you also learn about team building and collaboration.”
The Federation of United Schools Esports (FUSE) Cup is an international network of schools connected to providing young students with an opportunity to participate in a safe, supportive and structured esports competition while developing positive gaming behaviors and digital wellbeing.
To make this a holistic exercise for the students, the competition included lessons on gaming addiction and balance. Screen-free time was also provided, together with a few sessions on screen addiction. Additionally, like in GISST, the participating students were expected to ensure they had taken care of assignments and assessments they would miss during the competition.
Mr. Allen Lindblad, Director of Educational Technology, who coordinated the event, talks about balancing the use of technology in the post-COVID world. “We see a need to get kids off devices, but the pandemic has shifted even more of their world online. FUSE Cup has done a great job of bringing e-gaming into the physical world,” he says. “The students aren’t sitting for hours wearing headphones and staring at a screen, but are using technology to enable movement and cooperation.”
Given that enrolling in the competition was his idea, Mr. Lindblad acknowledges that it’s been a learning experience for him as well. “We all had to learn the game, figure out the technicalities,” he reflects. To invite the rest of the school and larger community into the activity, the team hosted ‘Just Dance Breaktime’ on Tuesdays and Fridays where anyone could join or simply cheer on and support our participants.
Especially after remote learning, it’s been refreshing to see the students work together and overcome challenges in person. “Whenever one of us wanted to quit, we supported her,” Shruti says.
Even though they didn’t win the competition, the girls feel honored to represent the FIS at an EU-level event. The strong sense of camaraderie they’ve built with each other in the last few months is noticeable, besides the confidence the sport has helped them develop. They are already optimistic about participating next year.
When asked about what kept them motivated through the process, Gabriella says she drew a parallel with her soccer training. “Things like teamwork and discipline are skills that I could transfer from soccer into training for the FUSE Cup,” she shares.
Jolina says she dedicated the competition to her 3-year-old brother, who loves watching her dance.
Gabriella sums it up: “I just wanted to have fun.” All the other girls nod in agreement.