‘Soviet Football – The Untold Story’ (2017) in under an hour

Soviet Football - The Untold Story (2017)

Soviet Football – The Untold Story came out just before the 2018 World Cup was held in Russia. This great little documentary needs to be required viewing for every soccer pundit, professional or amateur. French Writer-Director Nicolas Jallot provides everything you need to know about Soviet football (советского футбола) history in under an hour.

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‘Ted Lasso’ (2020) – loved the series, hated the ending

Ted Lasso (2020)

There are so many reviews of this Apple TV+ original series, there isn’t much for me to add. Well, except for that bit about hating the ending. But let me start by saying Ted Lasso is one of few things that I can be thankful for this year, outside of my family and friends. This ensemble piece gives us characters that we care about and watch develop over 10 episodes. It’s almost heartbreaking that we have to wait until next year for season 2.

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2015 film shows Bari eat bread and football

Una Meravigliosa Stagione Fallimentare (2015)
aka A Wonderful Season of Failure

In his 2015 docufilm Una Meravigliosa Stagione Fallimentare, Director Mario Bucci creates a remarkable homage to his home club, located in the city of Bari on the southeast coast of Italy. The charm of this film comes from the innocent appeal of the players. There are also the tongue-in-cheek presentations of the kit men and the people who pull the strings. And, you are buoyed by the fans, the city, and its people as enthusiasm builds behind a team that should be hopeless.

It all makes an uplifting story of a team and a movement that create joy from bankruptcy and A Wonderful Season of Failure (the English title).

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Teen Voice – ‘Yellow Cards for Equal Pay’ (2020)

Yellow Cards for Equal Pay 2020) referee photo
Burlington High School girls soccer players react to receiving yellow cards during Friday night’s game against South Burlington at Buck Hard Field.

It is unbelievable to me that this story and its background were captured by a young soccer player. Being a long-time filmmaker since age 13, Maia Vota created this short film as a high school senior. Soccer movie fans should watch this 11-minute film for that fact alone, but you should really watch it because it is a great little story.

The story

It seems like 10 years ago, but 2019 was a revival year for Women’s rights and feminism. The performance of Megan Rapinoe and the USWNT in the 2019 Womens World Cup inspired people of all ages and genders to cheer for #EqualPay.

The excitement led Vota and her high school soccer teammates to start a campaign and be a voice in the matter. They produced and sold #EqualPay Nike jerseys to friends, family, and schoolmates. Friday Oct-18-2019 was Senior Night (presumably the last game of the regular season), where traditionally all the seniors get to start. Their plan was to score a goal and then lift and show the #EqualPay shirts that were underneath their Burlington HS jerseys.

However, when BHS scored, 4 of the girls enthusiastically pulled off their outer jerseys. The referee had to caution them for excessive celebration, and the moment went viral. Beaucoup national media coverage ensued.

Inspirational

Director Maia Vota assembles the story in a brisk, thorough, and uplifting way that inspires not just #EqualPay supporters, but it should also make any parent and any filmmaker proud, that a team of young people can pull together, organize, market and run a fundraiser like a small business. It’s impressive how Rapinoe’s inspiration begets more inspiration. America really needs that now.

BTW, NFHS rules are that the player must leave the field after being cautioned, so I assume Burlington would have had to sub off those 4 players with only a few minutes left. The opponents equalized, but it did not spoil the girls’ moment.

9 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9

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‘Take Us Home: Leeds United’ (2019) leaves you longing for Season 2

Take Us Home: Leeds United (2019)

As we all struggle on with the pandemic, one of the things we miss most is sporting events — the hot dogs, the beer, the chance to be with like-minded souls and scream in unison at a goal or a bad foul. For some, streaming sports documentary series at home is a modest substitute. Writer-Director Lee Hicken’s series Take Us Home: Leeds United does more than substitute for sports; it creates a sporting legend.

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‘Meninos de Kichute’ (2010) an engaging look back at Brazilian life

Meninos de Kichute (2010)

I watched Meninos de Kichute on TubiTV and was surprised to find such a well-crafted film that I had never heard of. Set in 1975, the story shows life in a small Brazilian city, where for men a status car is a Dodge Dart or a Karmann Ghia, and for boys, it is a pair of soccer cleats known as kichute.

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‘Soccertown USA’ (2018) the Jersey Boys of soccer

Soccertown USA (2018)

Soccertown USA is a treasure of painstaking research conducted by Writers Tom McCabe and Kirk Rudell. For years, I had wondered why so many US National Team players and referees came from New Jersey. This documentary explains how the Town of Kearny, a suburb of Newark, NJ, was a working class neighborhood of immigrants who brought their love of the game to their new country. The town became an oasis of excellence that developed American champions.

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Why I loved ‘The English Game’ (2020)

The English Game (2020)

A period drama about football is unique. A well-crafted tale in this time of pestilence is a joy and a comfort. The English Game, how football became the people’s game, is elegant soap opera and luscious escapism to a simpler time. Three nights in a row, to close out my shelter-in-place day, I self-administered dollops of this Netflix TV series and then slept deeply, sans souci.

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‘Streetball’ (2010) best Homeless World Cup soccer movie

Streetball (2010)

Streetball is not just another homeless world cup film, it is the best of its genre. Despite being 10 years old, this documentary is fresh, vibrant, and still relevant in its reflection of the world today. Streetball also stands out as one of the few homeless world cup (HWC) films where the soccer is as engaging as the stories of the people.

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The story you never heard about ‘The Team That Never Played’ (2010)

The Team That Never Played (2010)

If you are looking for a great idea for a soccer movie, you should buy the rights to this 10 year old documentary The Team That Never Played. Gather up the players interviewed by Writer-Director Greg Appel and fill out their stories while they can still be recalled. This is history that deserves to be retold on a bigger stage and preserved by more than word of mouth.

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Alexis Sanchez is a Maravilla in ‘Mi Amigo Alexis’ (2019)

Mi Amigo Alexis (2019)
My Friend Alexis

Mi Amigo Alexis has been released on Netflix in the USA without fanfare. Which is puzzling to me, because this is one of the best and highest-quality family-friendly soccer movies to arrive since Bend it Like Beckham. That being said, My Friend Alexis is not a comedy, not a film where you giggle along with your child while watching. It has some serious themes that you might need to discuss with your child afterwards. 

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‘Make Us Dream’ (2018) – the price of giving your all

Make Us Dream (2018)

You don’t need to be a Liverpool fan to love Make Us Dream. But by the end of it, you may want to become an LFC supporter. Because Writer-Director Sam Blair brilliantly crafts the tale of Steven Gerrard so that his pain, his mission, and his love for club and city bind to your heart. When you watch this film, you believe the club is the man, and the man is the club. 

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A Costa Rican gem: ‘Buscando a Marcos Ramirez’ (2017)

Buscando a Marcos Ramirez (2017)

I was thoroughly enchanted by Buscando a Marcos Ramírez, the first soccer movie I have seen from Costa Rica. In the story, Marcos’ single mom has named him for the popular eponymous children’s book and given him a love of reading. But when she dies, he must move from the simple countryside to the unwelcoming home of his grandfather in the city of San José, Costa Rica.

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