Next Goal Wins

Sometimes a documentary comes along that captures everything that is beautifull about sports. This documentary is about what is considered to be the worst international football (soccer) team, in the national football team of American Samoa, who have never won an international game. British filmmakers Mike Brett and Steve Jamison went to the island to make a documentry to show what it means to still love the game and continue to play in the face of defeat after defeat. However, that is not quite what they got after they began filming.

 From the moment this documentary begins, there is a great dynamic going on as the American Samoan culture is a very rich and spiritual society and not everything there quite fits in with the international football culture. For example, you have the first transgender player Jaiyah Saelua to ever play an international game. She is from the island’s third gender Fa'afafine and plays in a team full of men. Also the church plays a pivotal role in the community and often takes precidence over practice. Then there is national goalkeeper Nicky Salapu, who has never quite been able to forget the 0-31 thrashing that he got at the hands of Asutralia a decade earlier and who dreams of just winning one game at night. So all in all, a team with some things yet to prove.

After another loss, the American Samoan football association asks the Americans for help and they send in Dutch coach Thomas Rongen, who is to help the team. He is a true hardliner and is formed through coaching for decades in the toughest football envirement in the MLS (American professional soccer league). The moment he sets foot on the island is when this documentry takes on a whole new dimension. He is set to win at any cost and only has a few weeks to change and transform the team. But immediately there are many cultural clashes between Rongen and the American Samoan’s and he will have to to overcome these differences if he is to lead the team to their first victory ever.


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