Copa90's global search for six new presenters continues. We caught up with Eli Mengem to find out how his journey around the world is going and what he's experienced along the way.
What is the stand out experience from the trip so far?
I’m not going to be able to pick a select moment from a trip that encompassed 17 cities and 15 countries. But when I look back on the past two months, cheering and bouncing amongst a 50-man army that was awaiting upon our arrival in Santiago at 1am was probably it. I remember turning to one of the cameramen who five minutes earlier was talking about looking forward to bed, and the next I know he is on a random Chilean’s shoulders singing in Spanish.
How does eg a Spurs vs Arsenal rivalry translate when its in Singapore?
It’s massive. Put it this way, at the Arsenal pub we attended, there was a sign outside refusing entry to anyone on Tottenham colours.
What is the best meal you have eaten?
This is a hard one. Every single finalist worked really hard to show of their local cuisine. But for me personally, it was the ‘FUFU’ in Ghana. An incredibly rich, spicy dish that was served in a huge bowl and shared amongst the table. In it was goat, ginger and these incredible plaintain dumplings all floating amongst a rich tomato based soup. No forks, knifes or spoons.. just fingers! I was then told you drink the leftover soup afterward, so I did, only to realise the whole tables fingers had been in the soup… I wondered why all the other Copa90 crew were happy for me to be the man to drink it.
Have you experienced any cultural elements that you would like to take back home and make the norm?
Absolutely. One in particular is something I saw in Sao Paulo with the active support group ‘Gavioes Da Fiel’ of Corinthians. They had a massive clubhouse in an industrial part of the city. In it they made tifos, organised choreography’s. On top of that they ate and drank there before the match and it created an amazing vibe. It did wonders for the ambience and organisation of the group and made it really feel like they were a proper family, something that I think could empower a lot of supporter groups in the UK.
You must have met hundreds of fans along the way, are there any stories that have touched you in particular?
Of course there have been many, but one that really touched me and all the crew were a supporters group in Kuala Lumpur, who had had drums banned from the stadium so instead improvised and used these massive soft drink bottles and the chairs to make a rythym. They didn’t make nearly as much noise as a regular set of drum, so they had to all gather around and compensate by being even louder.
How many thousands of air miles have you earned?!
I’m not sure of the exact number but I’m sure it’s a lot. I’ve spent over 160 hours on a plane over 24 different flights… And I haven’t even got back to the UK yet!