The American Samoa soccer team features in documentary
The journey of the American Samoan soccer team has been featured in a new film.
A documentary on the American Samoan soccer team is set to hit film festivals next month.
Next Goal Wins is a British film produced by Kristian Brodie and directed by Steve Jamison and Mike Brett, that charts the fortunes of the team, who suffered a record 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001.
They filmed the team over two years as they attempted to qualify for the World Cup, which culminated in their first ever win, against Tonga.
Alex Perrottet reports.
The filmmakers were intrigued by American Samoa but first they had to convince the Football Federation that they weren't just going to poke fun at the 31-0 loss. Director, Steve Jamison, says it took them a while to convince them they were serious.
STEVE JAMISON: You have to ask yourself the question why on earth would a team who have lost every single game they've ever scored and a goalkeeper who has collected the ball out of his goal more times than any other goalkeeper in international history. You have to ask yourself why these guys still play. And the reasons that they are play are really what we wanted to explore.
But they thought they had hit a snag when the former Dutch Ajax player Thomas Rongen, was appointed coach. They say he's a hyperactive, chain-smoking, potty-mouthed coach from the old school, and co-Director Mike Brett says it could have gone either way.
MIKE BRETT: Either this guy was going to be transformative in what he did with the side or he was going to completely, not only clash I think with the culture which we had come to know and love, so we thought that would kind of be like a fire and ice situation, so we were apprehensive going over there.
The producer, Kristian Brodie, says it all came together better than they could have planned.
KRISTIAN BRODIE: We knew the team were going to try to qualify for the World Cup but we didn't expect what happened to happen at all. I mean we couldn't have planned for it, it's almost so perfect that were it actually written as a screenplay you wouldn't believe it.
Thomas Rongen saw them to their first ever win over Tonga, and many other competitive performances, but says it changed his life as well.
THOMAS RONGEN: This experience was as much of a learning curve for me as it was for the players. You know, I became... spiritually during that period of time I spent in American Samoa. I had to immerse myself in their culture and I threw out old books and developed a new training plan based on what I learnt in the short time while I was at the island.
And the players - well all you need to do is ask the goalkeeper, Nicky Salapu, who says he can now die a happy man.
NICKY SALAPU: Winning against Tonga and tying against Cook Islands and a loss against Samoa, one goal, makes me happy no matter what. I'm a whole new person right now. It doesn't matter if I die tomorrow, or I die next week, I am still going to die as a happy person because we accomplished something that we never experienced before.
Next Goal Wins will feature at the Tribeca Film Festival from April the 16th in Manhattan and will be released in the region in May.
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