If we study the Great Ones of sport, we find there are many contributing factors to their success: motivation, competitiveness, mentors, resilience, discipline, talent, and luck. Writer-Director Gabe Polsky gives us examples of all that and adds one more trait, creativity, that extends across music, art, and other disciplines.
Feature length sports documentaries about real high school teams commonly focus on a theme of social good. In contrast, The El Paso Conquest covers the boys soccer team at Del Valle High School in El Paso, Texas in it ups and downs, but it avoids social themes.
The Year of the Pandemic has been wickedly bloodthirsty as it feasted on the faltering FC Barcelona. Internal scandals led to Barcelona’s crunching 2-8 exit in the 2019-2020 Champions League quarter-finals, the messy Messi situation, and the attempt of Barça’s fans to expel the board. Even if you’re not a Barça fan, it’s hard to watch such an admired club implode so quickly.
I enjoyed Lee Hicken’s Take Us Home: Leeds United series so much, I was compelled to watch his earlier documentary on Leeds. Both are on Amazon Prime. Do You Want to Win covers Leeds’ last successful seasons in the early 1990s, when they won promotion to the top division and 2 years later won that division in the last season before it became the EPL.
Sport Psychologist Courtney Carroll Levinsohn found out that SFSU coach Tracy Hamm was working on her UEFA A-license. Only 1% of such coaching licenses are held by women. Why not put this story on the screen and thereby normalize it? The result is Coach, 25 minutes of inspiration that tell women and girls, you can do this.
Bobby Robson: More than a Manager is an extraordinary compilation of Robson archive footage interspersed with A-list interviews of coaches and players he influenced. Before this film, I didn’t know who Robson was, but in his prime, he is so alive and captivating that I could have watched him for another 2 hours. It is only towards the end, when he finally succumbs to cancer, that I realized he is literally communicating from the grave.
With his bald head and authoritative, gnarly New York accent, I sometimes thought I was watching former US soccer coach Bob Bradley. But no, Coach Jake is about Martin Jacobson, an American high school soccer coach who is, in many ways, much more successful.
How good is Trainer? It’s so good, you will never want to become a soccer coach in Germany. Director Aljoscha Pause follows 3 coaches in the 2nd and 3rd divisions of the German leagues during the 2012-2013 season. The men are under constant pressure from the media. But they are also constantly pushing themselves to excel and to someday reach the Bundesliga.
Kick Like a Girl is a 25-minute HBO documentary that follows a team of 8 year old girls who, having devastated all competition the previous two years, decide to get more challenge by playing in the boys division.