As a fan of football/soccer, I was intrigued when I heard about this documentary. Even if you know nothing about the sport, you know goals do not exactly come in the double-digit variety. So when I say American Samoa suffered a 31 goal loss against Australia, I assume the embarrassment of that game is obvious to any one. There are many sports films and documentaries, usually with the romanticized “comeback.” It is easy to understand a documentary about an undefeated team, or one that defies the odds despite tragedy, but how about a team that just wants to win a game? A team that has not scored in four years? This does not fit with cinema’s view of what it means to play a sport. Sports are about winning, right? Rocky I will always be the best because Rocky proved he could go toe-to-toe with the champ. For him to win would be ludicrous (I’m looking at you, Rocky II). The underdog does not always win the big game, or end up being the best team in the world. That is not reality; the geek does not always get the girl and the rag-tag group of misfits does not always win. The best documentaries set out to be about one thing, but another storyline is discovered along the way. This looks to be the case in Next Goal Wins, as an eclectic group of players tries their best with a foreign coach. Win or lose, it is going to be interesting.
More info about the documentary and highlights from the 31-0 loss after the jump.
“In 2001, the tiny Pacific island of American Samoa suffered a world record 31-0 defeat at the hands of Australia, garnering headlines across the world as the worst soccer team on the planet. A decade after that humiliating night, they remain rooted to the bottom of FIFA’s World rankings, having scored only twice in seventeen years. They have lost every competitive game they have ever played. Against this backdrop of serial underachievement, the team face the daunting prospect of a qualification campaign for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It would take a miracle-maker or a madman to turn the team’s fortunes around – and in maverick Dutch coach Thomas Rongen the islanders somehow find both. As a loan appointment from the mighty U.S. Soccer Federation, with experience of playing alongside football greats like George Best and Johann Cruyff, Rongen is completely unprepared for what greets him on the island – in his own words it is “by far the lowest standard” of football he’s ever seen, with only half of his team even fit enough to play a whole game. A lack of athleticism aside, Rongen’s ailing squad contains the emotionally scarred goalkeeper who conceded 31 goals against Australia a decade earlier and a member of Samoa’s third gender, the fa’fafine, who lives 24/7 as a woman. To complicate matters further the team’s best player has been posted 6000 miles away by the US military. With the team about to embark on a grueling World Cup Qualification campaign, Rongen has just one month to transform this ragtag of losers into a winning team – and perhaps learn a little about himself along the way.”