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In 2001, the tiny Pacific island of American Samoa suffered a world record 31-0 defeat at the hands of Australia, garnering headlines across the world as the worst soccer team on the planet. A decade after that humiliating night, they remain rooted to the bottom of FIFA's World rankings, having scored only twice in seventeen years. They have lost every competitive game they have ever played. Against this backdrop of serial underachievement, the team face the daunting prospect of a qualification campaign for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It would take a miracle-maker or a madman to turn the team's fortunes around - and in maverick Dutch coach Thomas Rongen the islanders somehow find both. As a loan appointment from the mighty U.S. Soccer Federation, with experience of playing alongside football greats like George Best and Johann Cruyff, Rongen is completely unprepared for what greets him on the island - in his own words it is "by far the lowest standard" of football he's ever ...Written by
Next Goal Wins
An inspiring story, whether you like football or not
This documentary chartering the preparations of American Samoa for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers has little to do with the beautiful game. It's a story of redemption, of solidarity, of family and community, and of believing in yourself. A true David and Goliath tale, there are further nuances that make "Next Goal Wins" stand above many other documentaries.
For one, there's Saelua, a transgender woman on the American Samoan team who plays harder than her male teammates, and her wholehearted acceptance and support by everyone on the island. Then there's Thomas Rongan, the Dutch coach who volunteers to come and help prepare the team, while he continues to grieve over the death of his daughter in a car accident.
I won't say anymore about the characters or what happens, but I will say that this story is truly inspiring and uplifting, and more than that, has made me question my own attitude, work ethic and beliefs in the weeks since I watched it, and I am very grateful.
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