American Samoa - 31-0 loss to big screen

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 19:40 23/02/2014

A documentary movie about American Samoa’s football team, the world’s bottom ranked side, has just won global distribution for release in April.

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A documentary film about American Samoa's football team, the world's bottom ranked side, is due to go on worldwide release in April.

Next Goal Wins tells the story of how the team - which now includes a fa'afafine in defence -  picked themselves up following a world-record 31-0 defeat to Australia.

After bringing in eccentric Dutchman Thomas Rongen to undertake the longest start-to-finish head coaching job in the history of world football, the team finally got their first ever victory, against Tonga in a World Cup qualifier 10 years later.

The film is the directorial debut of Mike Brett and Steve Jamison and, according to FIFA Weekly, sticks to the basic principles of moviemaking, creating strong characters including goalkeeper Nicky Salapu and defender Jaiyah Saelua, a fa'afafine.

"Saelua was born male but grew up with the identity and in the role of a girl and then a woman - nothing especially unusual on Samoa where fa'afafines are regarded as a third, autonomous gender," the magazine reported.

It also says Rongen is the star. 

At a team dinner the Dutchman reveals a sensitive side to his character and wins over the last lingering doubters. 

At the Tonga match, the "Woman of the Match" honours went to Saelua for preventing not one but two Tongan goals.

Salapu even manages to smile again, having never forgotten the loss to Australia. 

"Everything's all right now," he says, "But one day I'd like to play Australia again. Just once. That's what I'd like." 

Rights to the movie have been sold in Australia but there's no word on New Zealand yet.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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