After a riveting final where Arsenal beat Everton 3-1, the Barclays Asia Trophy 2015(BAT2015) has come to an end. The last couple of days were full of emotion as fans got to meet their favourite players and managers who obliged with photos and autographs.
52,107 fans turned up at the Singapore Sports Hub (National Stadium) on Saturday night, making it the biggest single matchday attendance in the history of the Tournament. The Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore also set the largest cumulative attendance (over two match days) as 81,974 came to watch the Tournament. The previous best was in Hong Kong in 2007, when 76,336 supporters attended.
The matches were played at high intensity that was only matched by the humidity and the cheers from the crowd. The teams had the pleasure of entertaining fans that can’t make it to England to see them play live. These memories shall forever remain with those who were here, but the matches aren’t the only impact the Barclays Premier League wants to have in Asia. The Premier League organised events, apart from the matches, which focused on several initiatives, with aims to have lasting impact and leave a legacy.
The international coaching programme and premier skills came to Singapore for the first time. 100 Singaporean coaches and referees received expert training from Arsenal, Everton and Stoke City coaches and the BAT match officials. The aim is to provide the coaches and referees with “the skills and support to develop their own community football projects and to progress as coaches and referees as well” as explained by the Premier League’s executive chairman, Richard Scudamore, who reiterated that it’s part of their agenda to give back to communities for supporting the most exciting league in the world.
“One Goal” seeks to use football to raise awareness and funds to combat child malnutrition, which affects an estimated 200 million children in Asia. The Premier League backs the Asia Football Confederation (AFC) in this initiative by publicising and endorsing it. The two organizations are working closely together in social and commercial development and One Goal was central to it. Stoke City FC lent its support to raise awareness by having the “One Goal” logo adorned on the jerseys worn by them for the BAT.
In addition, the Asian Football Confederation and Premier League had a workshop where the three premier league clubs shared their expertise in areas of community development, sales, marketing and communication in order to develop Asian football.
The workshop is part of the Mutual Cooperation Agreement that the Premier League and the AFC signed in March 2014, when the two organisations agreed to work closely to achieve mutual objectives. The AFC strives to improve in the areas mentioned above. AFC Acting General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John said, “We believe there remains untapped potential throughout Asia and with your assistance; we hope to turn that potential into reality.”
The Premier League has committed to continue this work, as it is to give the Football Association of Singapore S$150,000. The money will ensure that football legacy exists beyond the Barclays Asia Trophy and continues to deliver on the Mutual Cooperation Agreement the Premier League signed with the AFC last year.
With the help from the Premier League, Asian football fans will hope that the changes to yield positive results. The standard of living for many children and national football leagues could see a lot more improvement. Who knows, maybe in the future an Asian nation might be home to a league that rivals the EPL.
What we can be certain is that Asia can look forward to seeing their favourite Premier League teams live during the pre-season.