There’s not much room for diplomacy in the frantic world of competitive e-sports.
And yet sports diplomacy, particularly in e-sports, is part of the pitch which led to a Bond University student being awarded a prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarship.
Finn Robinsen is in his second year of a Bachelor of International Relations, and it’s also second time lucky for the 20-year-old who applied for a New Colombo Plan Scholarship last year but missed out.
“I don’t actually know if it’s sunk in yet, it hasn’t hit me . . . I’m still just working it through in my brain, thinking about the whole experience and what I’m going to do,” Mr Robinsen said.
“I guess for any international relations student or anyone who studies anything to do with international relations, the New Colombo Plan is where you want to be.
“It involves Australia and its role within the region and the Australian government has put a lot into establishing this and it’s just what I wanted to be a part of.”
The New Colombo Plan was set up by the Australian government to increase knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduate students to study and undertake internships in the region.
Mr Robinsen said he was thrilled to receive the scholarship, which he intended to use to attend Soochow University in Taiwan, while also planning to apply for internships in the local mayor’s office and the e-sports industry, in which he has previously worked at Bond as a research assistant.
Alongside his international relations studies, Mr Robinsen has an interest in soft power and sports diplomacy, and said the worlds of e-sports and diplomacy were not as divergent as most people might think.
“E-sports being a really emergent field, it’s going through the trials and tribulations of trying to gain legitimacy as a sport, and a lot of countries, especially in Asia, see e-sports as a potential means to gain prestige.
“It’s like the Olympics, a huge international sporting event where countries can win gold medals, they can send their athletes overseas, and they can show the world what they’re great at. For a lot of Asian countries who are big in e-sports, this is a whole new industry where they can dominate, so it’s very important for the region.
“I’ve always been interested in soft power and how countries can use more positive influential tools to get what they want, so not using nasty things like coercion and war, none of that. It’s more how we can use sports, how we can use programs like the New Colombo Plan to deepen our region’s connections and establish strong bonds between countries.”
Mr Robinsen also hopes to use his scholarship to improve his Mandarin, while gaining industry experience and building his personal network and institutional ties as he works towards achieving his career goals, which include working at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and an eventual posting as a diplomat.