From the French Riviera to India’s Taj Mahal; from the environs of the Statue of Liberty in America to the wilderness of Kenya’s eccentric landscapes, there is one common language that pervades topological boundaries – the global dialect of soccer.
While soccer fanatics in these countries may be thousands of miles away from the Anfields, Emirates and Old Traffords of this world, their passion for the Barclays English Premier League remains at fever pitch levels. Week in and week out, millions of fans across the world congregate at sports bars, cook out joints, the occasional cinemas and homes to fill up on their weekly dose of the English Premier League.
Also, the Premier League provides fans with the reward of soccer after a tiresome week at work.
“I thoroughly enjoy my weekends when the EPL is on,” said Ajay Singh, a Manchester United fan who lives in Nairobi, Kenya. “I often get home from work, take a cat nap and awake to the thrills of the league.”
Just like pubs across Europe and other continents, Kenyan bars and clubs are often packed with throngs of soccer fanatics, wildly cheering their sides on diligently with pure passion, in the naïve hope their top-of-the-lungs yelling and expertly weighed comments may impact the proceedings of the game. Plus a good turnout at such avenues equates to good business for owners.
Pratik Kamdar, one of the directors at Spartans Lounge, situated in the heart of Nairobi’s Westlands area, discussed how good the Premier League is to his business.
“It spells great news for business. Looking back at the World Cup 2014 that was, the carnival mood of the game brought with it an escalated sense of harmony amongst friends and strangers,” Kamdar said, “Furthermore, on a business level, our sales rose by 50% with a packed lounge – that is always a welcoming sign for any business. With the commencement of the EPL, I expect the same ambiance and turnout over the weekends.”
For years, the country of Kenya has been synonymous with supporting a handful of soccer teams, pre-dominantly Manchester United and Arsenal. However, nowadays you do find a respectable number of Liverpool fans, with pockets of Chelsea and Manchester City followers, while Everton and Tottenham make up but a minority of the soccer-supporting fanbase.
While it is obvious fans will not catch all the weekend’s action due to games being played at the same time, the probability of watching six to seven games over various satellite channels, coupled with the weekend highlight shows as well as online streaming and radio commentary means fans are never left in despair.
“Due to work, I rarely get to watch the games. However, through BBC as well as local radio stations, I keenly follow the commentary. Sometimes, I just check the scores online (via mobile phone),” said Abdulmajid Karama, a tuk tuk (rickshaw) operator manning the streets of Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa.
Therefore, when the furore of the Premier League sets in, be sure Kenya will not be sidelined on the action for the soccer-frenzy country that will go to great extremes to catch the game.