This Saturday was the first time a Bundesliga match was covered live on radio in the African languages of Hausa and Kiswahili. Fans were delighted and DW staff were equally pleased to be breaking new ground.
It's minor revolution in sports broadcasting. On August 27, 2016 the new Bundesliga season had just begun. In the 86th minute of the match between Borussia Dortmund and Mainz, Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took the penalty bringing the score up to 2-0 for Borussia. In two of DW's Bonn studios, the atmosphere was electric. But instead of crying out "Tooor" (German for goal) the commentators cried out "Cin kwallo" or "Goal."
Ever since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963, Saturday afternoon soccer on the radio has been an institution in Germany. Millions of fans eagerly wait for the moment when the commentator shouts "Tor, Tor." But the fortunes of the clubs in Germany's top league are not only followed in the country itself but also abroad. Fans of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund can be found all over the world.
Now Africans whose mother tongue is Kiswahili or Hausa can hear Bundesliga coverage in their own language. Every Saturday afternoon, Deutsche Welle will broadcast live commentary of a top match to Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Cameroon and eastern DR Congo in those two languages via partner stations.
The Deutsche Fussball Liga (DFL), or German Football League, which runs the Bundesliga and allocates broadcasting rights, wants to enter Africa. The market is traditionally dominated by the English Premier League, whose matches the BBC has been relaying in a number of African languages for many years. African fans of German clubs have until now been deprived of such coverage.
But there is a big demand for Bundesliga matches as was demonstrated by Saturday's coverage of the game between Borussia Dortmund and Mainz. Thousands heard DW's live coverage and posted their comments on the DW Kiswahili and DW Hausa Facebook pages. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most listeners found themselves supporting Borussia, which, internationally, is the better known team. "Well done, Borussia Dortmund, keep it up," was the comment written by Congolese Morgan Austin on DW's Kiswahili Facbook page.
Doing live soccer commentary was also unchartered territory for the DW staff at the microphone. They'd attended a training course on commentating two weeks before the match and were busy right up the last minute researching facts and statistics as well as rehearsing how they would react to what was happening on the pitch.
"I was surprised how well everything turned out," Josephat Charo from the Kiswahili service said.
The Hausa team were delighted to read praise for their efforts on Facebook. "The match gave us a lot of pleasure. It was as if we were in the stadium," wrote Auwalu Sarkin Pawa, a DW listener from Nigeria.
"It almost went off too smoothly," said Umaru Aliyu from the DW Haus team.
DW listeners would appear to have other problems. Ramadhan Balsosa from Tanzania wrote on Facebook that he was delighted to have discovered how the German players' names are pronounced. His compatriot Maulid Athman said one game on Saturday was not enough. "What about the Sunday games. Could you broadcast them live as well?"