World Cup matches shown on DMU’s Vijay Patel screen


A different kind of seat to watch from…

By Chloe Hewitt

World Cup fever has hit De Montfort University, with matches from the football competition being shown on the giant screen outside the Vijay Patel building.

The 34-square-metre display was fitted onto the side of the building after redevelopment works in the last year.

Currently it is used to showcase footage from #DMUGlobal trips, the latest TV adverts for the university, as well as live-streams of graduation ceremonies.

Showing the World Cup matches on the screen was the brainchild of university Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard.

Whilst in a meeting, casually discussing where everyone would be watching the World Cup it was realised that the university has a massive screen so why not show matches on there.


The view of the Vijay Patel screen

Sian Brewis, Senior Media Officer at De Montfort University, said: “We had to ask the city council for permission to screen the games and to have sound as, where it is, is technically a public highway.

“They were happy for us to show matches, but we are not allowed to show the adverts so when it is on ITV there is a man whose job it is to cut the screen when they are about to start.”

One game from each of the groups will be shown per day, with all England matches available to watch in addition to this.

The plan is to also show all of the knock-out games with the schedule to be confirmed following the completion of the group stage.

On Monday evening, the first England game of the group stage was shown on the screen and the turnout was far greater than originally anticipated.

“We had about 250 people who were watching the game on the screen,” said Ms Brewis.

“It was a shock. We had families come to watch, we had people bring their kids and we had 50 chairs for people to sit on. Some sat on the concrete benches we have there while others just stood around.

“With the time it was, with people coming home from work and the pubs open, we really did not think they would choose to watch on the screen.”

The main concern ahead of the match starting was whether it was going to get too rowdy, but Ms Brewis said everyone had a great time and there were no causes for concern.


View of the crowds watching from the Vijay Patel balcony

An already memorable evening took a turn for the humorous when a group showed up carrying an inflatable boat.

“It was my favourite part. All you saw was these people carrying a massive inflatable boat down to the front of the screen which they put cushions in to sit on, before cracking open some cans to watch the match,” said Ms Brewis.

“I had to go ask them what the boat was about. They said they had been rowing on the river when they realised the match was about to start, so remembering DMU was showing it, they turned back around, got to the bit of the river near Riverside Cafe, got out and carried the boat to the screen. Once it had finished, they picked the boat back up and carried on rowing down the river. Brilliant.”

In addition to this, Professor Shellard is inviting DMU people to attend a barbecue at his house to watch the games with the aim being for the international students to come and watch together.

And that is not all for the big screen.

“Now we have realised how much people like the screen, we are soon going to be asking staff and students what programmes they would like to watch on the screen,” said Ms Brewis. “This time next year we could all be watching Love Island together.”

She did add, however,  that only terrestrial channels will be screened.

The next match to be shown on the screen will be Denmark v Australia at 1pm tomorrow (Thursday, June 21).

Dole to Dubai

By Kiran Bedder-Patel


Drew selling Formula one tickets out in Dubai

The only upside the hearing about them cold, blistery nights is when someone bring jealousy upon you talking about the hot middle east. Yeah its brilliant hearing that as your hands are red-raw through the cold and your nose is dripping non-stop. Honestly.

However Drew Birkett, 23 can be excused for pinching himself multiple times for how crazy the last 2 years have been. A whirlwind adventure what’s took him from the Jobcentre+ and door knocking selling iPhone leads to sharing VIP party tables in Dubai.

I’m offered a tea as I sit down in his newly refurbished flat. Only after a welcoming hug. Quite a warm feeling. Did he bring me that from his trip? Doubt it.

Straight to the point, Drew explains how at 15, he was left to fend for himself, in and out of hostels and living with odd families, he finally managed to get himself a flat but without a job or qualifications, times did get difficult.
“I’ll be honest, I was on the dole and I aint afraid of saying it. I used to get £75 a week and had my housing paid for, I used to gamble half of my money down the bookies and then nick food from asda and sell fake stuff for cash. It was the definition of hustling.”

After regular trips to the jobcentre and agencies, Drew was offered a sales role, selling mobile phones to existing 02 customers. A role what gave him a stepping stone to progress. Learn. Excel and even rise up to the next tax bracket.

“I’ve always thought I had the gift of the gab, my voice is quite dominant. I made a record number of sales and earnt the respect and got friendly with the right people. I always told the boss I want to be where the moneys at and he said he will eventually put me there.”

The rich list, an events organisation what hosts events such as VIP treatments at formula 1 events such as the Abu Dhabi and the Monaco grand prix as well as high class hospitality at packages at high end party venues like Marbella.

As the leading hospitality event for the final race of the season in the Middle East, they needed marketers for the boat party’s and who better to fit the role.

“The owner of the rich list approached our boss, as they knew each other from years ago, and said they needed agents to sell more tickets and someone who can close deals. Turn the answers from ‘maybes’ to ‘definitely’.

“I was handpicked on the Friday and by the Monday I was made to graft and handle silly amounts of numbers from people who earnt some serious cash.”

Following weeks of stress and hours of staring at screens confirming bookings, the rich list group including Drew flew out to Dubai.

Three weeks prior to the race, popular R&B artists, Craig David, Busta rhymes and Rick Ross were confirmed to perform, at the rich list after party. An event Drew was in charge of. “Oh mate, it was hectic honestly.”

He says rubbing his head and flickering his cigarette in and out his mouth due to his twitch. “First things first, I’ve never been on a plane. I went to the Isle of White once and that’s it. I was given my own little pod and could request any drink or food I wanted. I remembered when I didn’t eat for days now I’m being offered caviar on a fly emirates.

“When we touched down I was driven to a flashy hotel and was told to settle in and rest because I had to go to the Yas Marina Circuit the next day which was a couple hours away.”

Upon arrival to the circuit, two-days prior to race weekend, Drew was in charge of bookings and cash intake.

A Bizarre situation occurred when discussing the finances with his boss, Bally Singh, in his office when a sudden knock on the door led to Drew meeting one of the most promising sports stars coming up.

“Yeah Chris Eubank Jnr knocked on the door and came in, asked if I’m alright and simple suggested we join him that night at club Dubai on his table. I was just star struck. Like me. Little old me being asked out.

“By a boxer. A decent one as well. I went and even accidently knocked Anthony Joshua’s shoulder but he didn’t even notice because he’s massive. Like he was there in front me like you are now. I’m not gunna lie, I was too shy to create a convo with Eubank Jnr but he was such a nice guy and provided us with drinks all night long.”

Race day dawned upon Drew and was a major event for formula 1 fans as it was the season finale. Even though Lewis Hamilton had sealed the championship, it was still a hotly tested affair with Valtteri Bottas claiming first place.

After the victory parade, the grand prix was lit up with a sensational firework display and after parties scattered all around.

“I know ours was the biggest because we had Rick Ross rapping and drawing in so many people. Eventually the gates were so rammed, we just had to let everyone in for free. The money we made was ridiculous. I actually seen someone hand over £500,000 in cash. I remember thinking £13 was a lot in cash back in the day, now I’m seeing this.”

Drew seen my mouth drop in awe of the figure he had just said and repeated the number.

“Yes, £500,000 in paper.”

The rich list event made just over £1.5million and was considered a huge success and massive profits were made. A celebratory watch was given out to each of its staff members and a final meal as gratitude for all the hard work.

That was made well aware to me after being shown off at least 8 times. Finally flying home, drew recaps the flight with a delicate scratch to his beard and looks slightly upwards.

“I was sitting on the flight home with a vodka coke in my hand thinking how this has happened. I’m going back to my flat where I was on the dole when I moved in. I had no sugar or milk to my name. This was only two years ago.

“I’ve just made contact with Anthony Joshua and shared a drink with Chris Eubank Jnr. I never had the money to watch them on sky and now I’m in the same room as them.”

As I go to leave and thank him for his time, Drew points at a small booklet behind a cabinet. I ask what it is but instead of answering he grasps it and turns it around.

“Look mate, this was my giro” he holds with the same hand what a £3,000 watch is connected to.

Can’t be as good as getting back to this cold walk home though, surely?