THE Wear-Tyne derby is going global.
The BBC Swahili service’s flagship football programme, Ulimwengu wa Soka, is back on Wearside this weekend to provide live commentary as the Black Cats take on the Magpies in tomorrow’s 1.30pm Stadium of Light kick-off.
The programme first visited the stadium on New Year’s Day, the first time the service has broadcast coverage live from pitch side, rather than commenting on TV footage. Sunderland beat eventual Premier League champions Manchester City 1-0 on the day and the Swahili commentary, from which Korean Ji Dong-won’s last-gasp goal was a massive hit online.
The two commentators at the Stadium of Light that day, Charles Hilary and Salim Kikeke, are household names in East Africa, and also present the new BBC Swahili TV news and current-affairs programme, Dira ya Dunia.
Ulimwengu wa Soka brings football news and live English Premier League commentary to Swahili-speaking fans every weekend, with listeners tuning into the radio coverage as they watch games on TV.
Sunderland AFC chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “The Barclays Premier League is the most watched league in the world and is hugely popular across the African continent.
“Traditionally, Sunderland has enjoyed a huge and passionate support in the North East of England.
“We are now building on that core support and expanding into international territories, such as Africa, as the club enters a new phase of its development and looks to increase its global following.
“We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming our friends from the BBC World Service commentary team to the Stadium of Light once again and for a game of such great significance to our fans and the club.
“I’m sure those listening across Africa will be absolutely amazed by the passion and intensity of this game and it will be a great showcase for the Barclays Premier League and Sunderland AFC.”
Editor of the BBC Swahili Service Ali Saleh said: “Once again this is a great opportunity for BBC Swahili to bring live action from the Stadium of Light to our East and Central African listeners.
“This is one of the iconic derbies in English football, where famous African players will feature.
“It promises to be an exciting match while there is still everything to play for.
“Last season’s drama is still fresh in our listeners’ minds and Sunday’s match is already generating a lot of debate.”