Next Goal Wins | Film review - Stirring soccer documentary hits the back of the net

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Even folk who don’t give a hoot about football will find their hearts warmed by inspirational documentary Next Goal Wins (opens in new tab) about the tiny Pacific island soccer team that’s been dubbed the worst in the world. Opening with footage of America Samoa’s record-breaking 31-0 drubbing by Australia in 2001, the film chronicles the national team’s herculean struggle to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Thomas Rongen, the hard-nosed Dutch coach they recruit, is one of the film’s most striking personalities, but its most charismatic is undoubtedly defender Jaiyah ‘Johnny’ Saelua, a member of Samoa's third gender, the Fa'fafine, and the first transgender player ever to compete in a World Cup qualifier.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 98 mins. Directors Mike Brett, Steve Jamison.

Showing on Sky Movies Premiere at 6.15pm tonight (opens in new tab) http://youtube.com/v/OIeKkjJNM6A

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.