Brothers Kevin and Mike Scullion originally intended to create a fictional movie about homeless men joining a soccer team. Instead, they ended up documenting the Downtown Dawgs’ journey from a Calgary drop-in shelter to the 2010 Homeless World Cup in South Africa.
Unlike the similar movie Kicking It, this documentary shows the men in all their warts and mental illnesses: bipolar disorder, drug addiction, depression, lack of self-esteem, struggling to be a team, and stealing from teammates. It also provides a glimpse of the issues of life in a homeless shelter: sleeping on a floor mattress so that the drunks can’t fall off a bed. Fitting all your possessions in a small locker. Trying to get a birth certificate for a passport. Trying to take one’s bipolar meds regularly.
Three from Calgary, who make it to South Africa to represent Canada, find their lives are not so bad when compared to the poverty there. But on their return, the movie remains honest and shows that from the 30+ original players who started the program, only one is able to get off the streets. Two of the tournament participants disappear. At one point, a bystander questions the reformative cost of sending the homeless on a trip to Africa.
Perhaps the most inspiring people in the movie are the men running the team. Drop-in center counselor Esau Tamura (now a teacher) stays positive with the guys despite all their issues and failures. Kevin Scullion continues to run Calgary Street Soccer and send players to the Homeless World Cup tournaments.
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5