The esports gamer playing for England just a year after she started gaming - but faces sexist abuse

By George Hancorn and Aspel Brown, ITV News' Here's The Story

Alia Harvey only started playing video games last year as a way to feel less lonely after moving from her native Singapore to London.

Posting on TikTok for tips on how to play FIFA in January 2021, she quickly became an expert in it, and went on to amass a following of more than 100,000 people on the social media app through posting videos of her playing the football game.

Alia's growing popularity on TikTok led her to being asked to compete for England in esports - and was part of the team that competed in the Commonwealth Esports Championships, a trial event that was held alongside the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

But Alia says that with her growing success has come a torrent of online abuse about being a woman in esports - traditionally a male-dominated sport.

Alia, who is 23 and now lives in Devon, told ITV News: "Every single day I could post a random video and my comments will be filled with the most sexist things."

"I think it's just because the scene has been so male dominated that I think a lot of people leaving those comments feel a sense of entitlement.

"I don't think any girl in gaming should go through it, but it's at the stage now where I literally don't care.

"If you leave a sexist comment now, I just take it as jealousy and envy.

"I do like to look at the profiles of people leaving those comments and a lot of the time they're trying to do the same thing and they're boys especially. So it's just like you're just saying it because you're jealous and you're just trying to find an outlet to, you know, just release that negative energy."

The 23-year-old content creator and streamer represented England Credit: Alia Harvey

Alia went from a few hundred views on her earlier TikTok videos, to regularly hitting more than half a million views on TikTok.

"I credit TikTok a lot for my success," Alia Harvey tells ITV News.

"If it wasn't for that platform, I wouldn't have grown as much as I did on Twitch and Instagram and have all the opportunities that I've had.

Organisers of the trial esports competition at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham hope it could become a full medal event at the next Games in Australia in 2026.

"I've certainly seen lots of news about whether 2026 becomes a medal event or not," says David Martin, Chief Operations Officer of British Esports.

"When we started on this journey, would esports players and athletes want to be part of representing a nation?

"The answer is a resounding 'yes'.

"They want to be there, they want to represent their home nation and they want to play for a medal.

"Whether that results in a positive decision by the Commonwealth Federation is not in my hands but I think they're going to see that loud and clear."

Alia went on to win a bronze medal with England in the Women's eFootball category at the trial event in Birmingham, with Wales winning silver and Northern Ireland taking gold.

Reflecting on her journey since that first TikTok video she posted about FIFA in January 2021, Alia says: "I didn't think in a year and a half, this is where I would be."

Alia praised the diversity of the competitors in this year's esports event - and hopes that it will encourage to more women and girls to get into esports.

"If you look at our roster, there's girls who are trans who are playing in a women's category, you've got Asian and black girls", Alia said."With the amount of girls in this tournament, they're going to look at it and be like, 'that is someone that looks like me in such a male dominated scene'.

"'You know, one day I can be like that girl on that stage and represent England'.

"One of my main objectives has always been to be a voice for women and to inspire little girls."

Here's The Story is a new strand from ITV News bringing you stories worth knowing plus original journalism worth watching from our team of reporters. You can follow Here's The Story across ITV News' social media platforms, including on our Instagram account, or you watch the latest videos here on the ITV News website.