252) Next Goal Wins (2014)
The power of hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and an object lesson in what it really means to be a winner in life.
9/10 – Because the IMDB summary gives very little away, I’ll provide some background on this for those who don’t know about “Next Goal Wins”. In 2001, American Samoa lost 31-0 to Australia, making it the biggest ever loss in International Football (Soccer) and landing them at the bottom of the Fifa World Rankings. They were statistically the worst team in the world, losing every game they have played and only scoring twice in 17 years.
This is a true underdog story. The documentary chronicles their attempt to garner a win, to have a slight glimmer of hope to qualify for the Fifa World Cup, but at the very least score a goal. Armed with an enthusiastic new coach, an eclectic team and limited footballing ability, they embark on their journey to win a game.
Recent British Independent Film Awards 2014 Winners, and on numerous end of year lists, this documentary although slightly predictable is a truly touching experience. When you are not watching the perfectly edited matches, you are discovering a resolute community looking to move on from the past, both on and off the pitch, with their unreserved passion for football. If you have seen Undefeated then you will likely draw comparisons to their story, albeit with somewhat different challenges, sport is what brings them together.
Whether you have any interest in football (soccer) at all, you will become emotionally invested in this story and it is a testament to the raw emotion displayed on screen but also the quality of the documentary itself. It is fully deserving of its accolades to date, and I hope it continues to be featured on many more lists to come.