Review: Next Goal Wins
Steven Jamison and Mike Brett, 97mins, 2014, America
This review is based on the documentary/ﬁlm ‘Next Goal Wins’ by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. This ﬁlm is based on the Physical and Emotional change that the American Samoan soccer team make. In 2001 America Samoa would be considered ‘the worst team ever’ when Australia annihilates American Samoa by a whomping 31-0.The goal keeper Nicky Salapu has never once won a game when playing for this side and neither have any of the other players. These men play amateur football and don’t even get payed to play the sport! They play because they have a passion, a love for the sport. Many if not all of these players have multiple jobs and playing football is a way to relieve their stresses. These players showed me something that I haven’t seen for a long time in a soccer team and that’s passion, pride, courage and the will to continue even when they feel down. They will not quit as it isn’t in their nature. Quitting is failure and they will never surrender. During one of the scenes, one of the players mentioned that whether they win or lose, as long as they stay a team then this is success.
Not too long after they managed to get a professional coach (ﬁnally they have someone who can help these players become skilled enough to play professional soccer) that would train them but there are many ups and downs. The coach Thomas Rongen is a Dutchman who used to coach 9 different sides one of them being the American side D.C United. His daughter used to play soccer and on one unfortunate day when she was on her way to training she ended up in a car accident and passed away. Unfortunately for him he comes to realise that these players have no real skill and at times looses his temper. But as the days progress his attitude changes. He learns about who they are, what they do and this helps him learn more about himself as a person. He manages to get them to play well enough so they can win the qualiﬁers. They actually manage to win their ﬁrst match but lose their next match and are no longer running competitors to qualify. They do end up moving up the ladder 11 places from the bottom.
Honestly, I did ﬁnd the ﬁlm laborious at ﬁrst but after a while I did start to enjoy it as I learnt more about the people who play for America Samoa. It can be emotional for the viewer if you do try to put yourself in their position. I suggest that anyone who reads this blog actually watches this movie as it is inspiring.
Written By: Thomas Senese-Jones