American Samoa's soccer team has the dubious honor of being the lowest team in the FIFA rankings, a position they earned by having never once won a competitive match and by only scoring two goals in seventeen years. Their biggest claim to fame has been the world record they set back in 2001... the biggest loss ever recorded when they conceded 31 goals and scored none in a game with Australia.
Next Goal Wins follows the current team during their campaign to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and far from being a straight up sports documentary solely for football fantatics it focuses instead on the strength of spirit and character needed to want to turn up and represent your country with the cloud of 'world's worst' hanging over you. With new coach Thomas Rongen loaned to them by the US soccer federation they have just one month to get ready for the qualifiers - and half the team aren't even fit enough to play a full game.
The documentary also introduces it's audience to Nicky Salapu - the team's goalkeeper and the only player left from the squad that was beaten by Australia, and to Saelua Jaiyah, the first transgender player in the international game.
Praised for its big heart, sensitivity and uplifting nature Next Goal Wins is currently certified '100% Fresh' on Rotten Tomatoes and has an 8.7 rating on IMDB.
It's getting a fairly limited release and I've opted for Hackney Picturehouse because it's a tiny £6 on Monday and that's the best deal I can find. As the screen it's in showing is small (only about fifty seats left as I write this) I would recommend booking ahead of time, tickets might not be available on the night. You can book tickets here, please note the actual film start time is 6.20pm (Meetup only allows scheduling on the quarter hours).
Those who have RSVP'd will get full meet up details the evening before, and the plan is to head to a bar afterwards to discuss the film.