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‘I Play Soccer’ (2011) at a Sierra Leone academy

I Play Soccer is a 6-minute short film about the Sierra Leone football academy run by the Craig Bellamy Foundation. By Stefan Lovgren, the film is more advertising than documentary. Like many soccer movies, I learned more from researching the subject than watching this film.

My interest in soccer post-dates Craig Bellamy’s career, so I didn’t know who he was, and actually I still don’t. But apparently he was a bad boy of soccer who started a foundation in 2008 to form this academy in Sierra Leone. For five years, Johnny McKinstry ran the school, even manning it through the 2014 Ebola crisis and harboring the boys inside the compound.

During McKinistry’s last 2 years at the Academy, he also managed the Sierra Leone national team (becoming at age 27, the youngest international manager at the time). From there he took over the Rwandan national team.

I’m suspicious of academies in under-developed countries

As with The Beautiful Game, which is about the Right to Dream academy in Ghana, I have difficulty accepting the true motivation of these schools. They say that football keeps the boys in school and educates them. Both schools seem to funnel their best players to small exclusive private high schools in Santa Barbara, CA. So far, Ghanaian Ema Boateng is probably the highest achiever from these academies, having secured a senior team spot with the LA Galaxy.

I just worry about all the other starry-eyed boys who don’t become football pros, and who end up like the players documented in Soccer’s Lost Boys.

To be honest, the only reason I am reviewing this film is because it showed up in a Link+ search at my public library and is in the university collections of USF and Sonoma State University.

4 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 4