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.
‘Next Goal Wins’ is a documentary about the worst football team in history, and their quest to win a game for the first time. It follows American Samoa, the team famously beat 31-0 by Australia around 14 years ago, and it’s one of the most uplifting documentaries I’ve seen recently. The film successfully shows the passion and pride these amateur footballers have for their country and it perfectly encapsulates why football can be such a special sport, far away from the world of high paid mercenaries we’ve got used to in the sport these days. It joins the team around 10 years after the humiliating defeat against Australia as they prepare for the South Pacific tournament, which once again goes poorly, with the team losing every match without scoring a goal. It’s only when they seek help from the US football federation in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers, and Dutch coach Thomas Rongen arrives that there’s a bit of hope that things might change.
Rongen is a terrific character, a passionate and tough coach determined to install the belief into these players that they could be winners. He’s funny, likable and he relishes a challenge, and we suspect he might just be able to organise this team enough that they might achieve something. The football matches are sharply edited, and genuinely exciting and we as viewers, are rooting for the American Samoan players every step of the way. It’s a real shame that takings seem to be poor and that many people are obviously put off by the fact that this is a football based documentary – I’d urge anyone not to let that put you off. This is a triumphant documentary that restores your faith in football at a base level, and tells a brilliant underdog story in a really enjoyable way. Highly recommended
Directed By: Mike Brett and Steve Jamison
Starring: Thomas Rongen, Jaiyah Saelua and Nicky Salapu