Monday 10 February 2014
Fans of the Barclays Premier League in India have taken the opportunity to get up close to the coveted trophy as well as the chance to meet the Manchester United legend Denis Irwin.
India Fest, which is run by Channel V, the youth entertainment arm of STAR, the broadcast partners of the Premier League in India, is the biggest youth festival in the country, with more than 65,000 attending the two-day event in Goa starting last Friday.
For the first time, the Premier League joined the festival, with the Barclays Premier League trophy and Irwin present in Goa. The chance to meet Irwin, who won seven Barclays Premier League titles at Old Trafford, was a popular draw for fans, not only of Manchester United.
As well as the opportunity to have their photograph taken with Irwin and the trophy, Barclays Premier League supporters also got the chance to get the Irishman's autograph and there was an interaction zone dedicated to the competition. Fans were also able to win other original merchandise at the Premier League stand.
The BPL is the most popular national league in India, with more than 80 million fans, while almost 1m follow the Premier League on Facebook and Twitter and more than 100,000 play Fantasy Premier League.
Shrinivas V. Dempo, the President of the Goa Football Association, was one of the people who met Irwin and expressed his hope that the presence of the former United full-back and the Barclays Premier League trophy would prove an inspiration to people in the region.
"The fact that the Premier League trophy has come to Goa highlights the popularity of football in Goa and in India," Dempo said. "I hope more youngsters take up to the beautiful game and ensure steady flow of talent that translates into success for India internationally. I do hope that someday an Indian player will be a part of a winning team in the Premier League.”