‘Soka Afrika’ (2011): well-meaning but misinformed

Soka Afrika (2011)

The problem of human trafficking through football, also known as football trafficking, has been covered in the media for almost 10 years. In Soka Afrika, Suridh Hassan puts together a sensitive portrayal of 2 teenage footballers trying to make a career in Europe in 2009. However, I do not recommend this documentary because it puts a good face on bad agents and furthers the myth of sports as a key way out of poverty.

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In the Hooligan genre: ‘White Collar Hooligan 3’ (2014)

White Collar Hooligan 3 (2014)

After The Football Factory, I swore I wouldn’t watch any more Hooligan movies. They seem to be a genre of violence, sex, and drugs, with a little bit of football as context. As in, we gotta go to a West Ham game on the way to the violence, sex, and drugs we are going to do.

And I don’t understand why it’s always West Ham hooligans.

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The poverty around WC 2010 is ‘Meanwhile in Mamelodi’ (2011)

Meanwhile in Mamelodi (2011)

During the month the 2010 World Cup is played in South Africa, Director Benjamin Kahlmeyer shows the life that goes on, meanwhile, in the impoverished township of Mamelodi. The township is only 16 miles from Loftus Stadium, but residents’ interaction is mostly limited to buying noisy vuvuzuelas and enjoying Bafana Bafana’s games on small black and white TVs.

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‘The Prize’ (2014) teaches how religion can help athletes

The Prize (2014)

Video evangelism is a soccer movie genre I haven’t reviewed until now. I was contacted by filmmaker Shawn Keith, who created The Prize: Under Pressure for sports chaplains. His 26-minute piece is well-done, interspersing World Cup footage with testimonials by international players. The most well-known of these is Kaká, and Americans will all recognize USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The message of the film is that embracing Jesus helps players deal with the pressure of performing at the highest level.

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‘The Magnificent Eleven’ (2012) dancing nude footie

The Magnificent Eleven (2012)

Asked what The Magnificent Eleven is about, actor Robert Vaughn boiled it down to: “Dancing footie players, nude.” This film is a little more than that, but it does put that nudie footie player thing front and center quite a bit. Or front and to the side. Or mostly, flabby rear end in the clubhouse shower, the locker room, the team bus, the pitch… you get the idea.

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‘When Saturday Comes’ (1996) surprisingly directed by a woman

When Saturday Comes (1996)

Many of the best soccer movies have been directed by women. Unfortunately, When Saturday Comes does not earn that distinction. Sean Bean plays young brewery worker Jimmy Muir, who gets the chance to tryout for his home team, Sheffield United.

But Jimmy sabotages himself with his own fear, drink, and lack of self-discipline, along with a multitude of challenges from family and friends.

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Ossie Ardiles between England and ‘White, Blue and White’ (2014)

30 for 30: White Blue White (2014)

White, Blue and White is an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that examines the effect of the Falklands War on Argentines Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. After winning WC 1978* in Buenos Aires, they are recruited by newly promoted Tottenham to become the first Argentines to play in the England First Division.

They are wildly successful until Argentina’s ruling junta invades the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) in 1982. Ossie’s fighter pilot cousin is killed in the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

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The FA’s Christian roots in ‘Thank God for Football!’ (2013)

Thank God for Football! (2013)

A strong Christian and avid researcher, Peter Lupson published his book Thank God for Football! in 2006. A few years later, he ran into an executive of the Christian Television Association. That heaven-sent meeting resulted in a documentary of the 12 past and present EPL teams that were founded by churches.

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Is ‘The Beautiful Game’ (2012) the best way out of Africa?

The Beautiful Game (2012)

Producer Julian Cautherly and Director Victor Buhler began working on their Africa10 film project in advance of WC 2010. Their lofty goal was to show how a passion for soccer encourages development and change in Africa.

But for those in poverty, soccer is more like a winning lottery ticket out of the country to a better life that they have no other means to achieve.

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