For many Manchester United fans based in Cape Town, South Africa, the opportunity to watch their team beat their neighbours Manchester City in their own backyard with thousands of other United fans in South Africa was unmissable.
The third edition of BPL Live in the shadow of Table Mountain, in Cape Town, was a resounding success as more than 35,000 football supporters came along so they could get closer to the Barclays Premier League.
“I don’t have the opportunity to go to England, but just to have a glimpse of what it is like every weekend over there, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment,” said Ceciro Kalie, a United supporter who had come to watch the derby with fellow supporters. “It’s just like that moment when my wife came down the aisle; it’s equal to that moment.”
“The atmosphere was amazing. I think the neighbours are going to complain – as well as the noisy neighbours!”
The fans poured through the turnstiles in their droves to watch live BPL matches on a giant screen, meet former players and play interactive games in marquees hosted by the clubs at the spectacular setting at Camps Bay High School on the Western Cape.
The Manchester derby followed on from Southampton’s comeback 3-2 victory over Liverpool on the big screen. While the result was not to the liking of Liverpool fans the opportunity to share their love for the club, visit their stand and even meet their legendary striker, Robbie Fowler, more than compensated.
“I couldn’t wait for this to happen,” said Gareth White, a 35-year-old Capetonian. “For years I’ve been hoping to go to England but today it feels like England has come to us.”
Tommy Davies, an Arsenal fan, watched his side beat Everton 2-0 in Saturday’s opening live match. “In South Africa we are passionate about our Premier League teams, and to be able to watch them together with so many like-minded people is special,” he said.
“The Premier League is showing us South Africans some love and recognising our support,” Tino Tenda, a 28-year-old Chelsea fan from Brackenfell, said.
Fowler, Peter Schmeichel, Lucas Radebe and Quentin Fortune were among the Barclays Premier League Legends to enjoy the weekend and sign autographs for fans, while South African rapper AKA closed out Day 1 with a surprise concert.
Fans got up close to the Barclays Premier League Trophy, played interactive games in club marquees and either deepened their existing bonds with clubs or forged new ones.
“We are very grateful to the fans who have attended this event from all over Cape Town and shown their passion for the Barclays Premier League,” said Premier League Managing Director Richard Masters. “The clubs have put on some brilliant initiatives for fans and 35,000 people have attended BPL Live across the two days – an illustration of the dedication in South Africa to the League.
“We have loved every minute of being in Cape Town and hope to come back in the future.”
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