In 2001, the tiny Pacific island of American Samoa suffered a world record 31-0 defeat at the hands of Australia,garnering headlines across the world as the worst football team on the planet.
A decade after that humiliating night, they remain rooted to the bottom of FIFA’s World rankings, having scored only twice in seventeen years. They have lost every competitive game they have ever played.
Against this backdrop of serial underachievement, the team face the daunting prospect of a qualification campaign for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It would take a miracle-maker or a madman to turn the team’s fortunes around.
Next Goal Wins
Yeah, I carried that around with me for a long time, for 13 years. It’s something that I never forget.
~Nicky Salapu to Failed Critics.
Next Goal Wins is an irresistible underdog story — sports-fan credentials not required
What follows is the intriguing story how a Dutch coach, with professional roots mainly in the American MLS and professional American football in the decades before the league became the MLS.
Having been the only applicant for the job to train the American Samoan national team Thomas Rongen manages to inspire a fighting spirit as well as to bring several players back home and to reverse an international retirement into possibly the most unlikely comeback. The return of the goalkeeper who leaked most goals in an official FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Niky Salapu.
All while learning forgotten values, principles gone lost in the ultra-competitive environment Rongen otherwise performs in.
British directors Mike Brett and Steve Jamison show the team in the weeks before and during its FIFA Brasil 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
A passion for, or interest in, sports is not required to enjoy ‘The Next Goal Wins’, that powerful is the documentary's inspirational value. The American Samoan team and Rongen take the viewer on a trip beyond the confines of sports, into comradery, passion and even gender-crossing boundaries. What starts because of the love for the game soon becomes an intrinsically compelling true-life story and can inspire even the most competitive, or least, viewers.
Initiated in 2011 ‘The Next Goal Wins’ was released in Spring 2014 and already took home the Best Documentary award at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards.
The documentary can be purchased or streamed from Amazon and is also available on most other streaming platforms which offer premium online viewing.