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Next Goal Wins receives positive reviews

The New York Times calls it “as sensitive and observant as an Edith Wharton novel,” becoming a few of the many positive reviews of the movie that captured the 2011 American Samoa men’s soccer national team earning their first victory, in a FIFA International match with the record 31-0 loss against Australia as one of its main backdrops.
“If you’re a person, and you find other people worth your time and attention, Next Goal Wins will stir you,” said the Village Voice and the list continues to accumulate.
“We are happy to hear about the positive feedback on the movie,” said FFAS President Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet. “I look forward to when they can show it locally in American Samoa.
“In the meantime good luck with all the other premieres.”
Johnny ‘Jaiyah’ Saelua, a fa’afafine that played on the 2011 squad, has emerged as one of the stars of the movie. Saelua and the team’s coach in 2011, Thomas Rongen, have been making the rounds of interview talks with Rongen being interviewed just last week by Sports Illustrated.
“When the movie ended the crowd responded very well to the movie that night and everyone was so positive about it,” Saelua said. “It was so much fun and the turnout was great as well.”
One of those in attendance was Australian midfielder Tim Cahill, who is of Samoan descent. He tweeted before and after watching the movie, saying he was “representing Samoa” at the premiere and in another said “Always proud2support such an amazing movie about Passion, Culture and Family. Regardless of the score.”
The movie opened theatrically in several cities in the U.S. on April 25, 2014 with a planned United Kingdom premiere for May 1.
Some of the movie’s other stars include Rongen and goalie Nicky Salapu who also happens to be the only surviving member of the 31-0 losing squad from 2001.
“The premiere really was one of the most fantastic nights we’ve ever had,” explained Mike Brett, one of the two directors of the film along with Steve Jamison. “As Steve said, it was just phenomenal to see a crowd of hundreds of people cheering and shouting for the American Samoan team every step of the way, just as we all did in Noumea and Apia back in 2011.”
Brett, Jamison and producer Kristian Brodie traveled to American Samoa twice in 2011 to be with the team when they competed at the Pacific Games in New Caledonia and later at the OFC Preliminary Qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
“The single most satisfying thing about the premiere was to know that people responded as well to the story and the characters in the movie as we had hoped they would,” Brett said.
“It seems that every single one of them understood from watching the film what our experience of living on the island and becoming such close friends with the American Samoa national football team was like.
“We believe that Next Goal Wins shows the true and inspirational tale of an island nation that will never give up in the face of adversity, and that has a great deal to teach the rest of the world about how to handle difficult obstacles with the utmost dignity and pride.”
FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua expressed his appreciation of the efforts by Jamison, Brett and Brodie in completing the movie.
“These guys are our ‘London Samoans’ and have done a great job with the movie,” he pointed out. “For the movie to get the positive feedback it is getting now is great news for us and can only inspire our association to try to beat the feats of that 2011 national team.”
The team was a win away from winning the preliminary tournament, losing 1-0 to Samoa while beating Tonga 2-1 and drawing with Cook Islands 1-1.
In 2015 American Samoa will prepare again for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and the Oceania qualifiers.
For more on Football Federation American Samoa go to www.ffas.as

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