Documentary details soccer's worldwide appeal

Posted: September 15, 2010

WHILE IT IS still gaining respect in this country - soccer is the world's game.

Two filmmakers show that in "Pelada," a documentary that transcends the soccer mom, minivan, orange-slices image of the sport we have grown accustomed to believing in the States.

The film chronicles the 3-year travels of former college studs and self-proclaimed "has-beens" Luke Boughen (Notre Dame) and Gwendolyn Oxenham (Duke), who journey around the world playing in pickup games. From dirt lots in Africa to rooftops in Japan, the film shows the influence soccer has on the lives of people.

"We were sitting around saying, 'If we could do anything, what would we want to do?' " said Oxenham. "Pick up" and "around the world" were sketched frantically onto a legal pad. Then it was 2 weeks of 'are you serious? I'm serious . . . let's actually do it.'"

Great moments in the film are scenes that lay argument to the popular ideal that sports can always unite. While much of the film depicts that, a trip to Tehran, Iran, finds Oxenham treated as a second-class citizen and making it nearly impossible to get in on a game, simply because she is female. In Bolivia, the two played a game conducted by inmates in a prison camp. In Jersualem, a pickup game between Arabs and Jews gets tense as an argument over a goal leads to harsh words and potential fisticuffs.

The film has received wide acclaim and, this weekend, it makes its way to Philadelphia. On Sunday, the cast will be in attendance for a 7 p.m. screening at The Ibrahim Theater at International House, 3701 Chestnut St. Ticket info is available at: www.pelada-movie.com/wordpress.

Parting shot

To limit distractions during the season, the athletic department at the University of Miami has forbidden its football players to post information on Twitter.

However, in a classic case of "Do as I say and not as I do," the school conveyed the message to the No. 17-ranked Hurricanes by posting on its own Twitter feed.

- Kerith Gabriel

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