World's worst football team wins over Tribeca - video
Next Goal Wins is a touching documentary about the spirit of the American Samoa football team
A DOCUMENTARY celebrating the spirit of the American Samoa football team, famous for losing 31-0 to Australia in 2001, has won over the critics after its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
Next Goal Wins, made by English film makers Mike Brett and Steve Jamison, follows the team as it prepares to take part in the Oceania qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup.
With a record of just one win in 28 years of competition, and memories of the world record defeat to Australia still dragging the team down, their new coach, Dutchman Thomas Rongen, appears to have a losing battle on his hands.
But under his tutelage the team, a cobbled-together collection of part time players featuring a Samoan 'fa'fafine' - a man who lives as a woman, goes on to achieve relative glory in the tournament also featuring Tonga, the Cook Islands and Samoa.
"In some ways, this is just another underdogs-go-for-it sports movie. In others, it is as sensitive and observant as an Edith Wharton novel," says the New York Times, which calls Next Goal Wins a "splendid celebration-of-humanity documentary".
The film is "inspiring, smartly executed, and immensely watchable", says Sound on Sight, which adds that watching this group of sporting underdogs "rise up and fight for victory is intoxicating".
Hollywood Reporter describes it as an "irresistible tear-jerker" that "salutes the tenacious spirit of American Samoa's national football team as they struggle to break the worst losing streak in the international history of the game".
It benefits from an "intrinsically compelling story, likeable underdog protagonists, and an exotic South Pacific location", and has been released just as World Cup football fever begins to build.
After being shown at Tribeca the film opens in the US today and in the UK next month.