Sport on Film

Next Goal Wins
Next Goal Wins

The unique hold that sport holds on the public imagination has always been a rich area for filmmakers to explore. These films are all compelling examples of how sport and film can combine to explore issues of community, politics, teamwork, personal attainment and identity. Going beyond the traditional triumph-against-adversity underdog narratives, many of these films highlight how sporting drama can serve as a microcosm for society, and demonstrate how both sport and film bring people together from all backgrounds, to powerful, often inspirational effect.

You can also check out our Sport-themed podcast suitable for secondary clubs.

The Cup

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration90 mins

The Cup(1999)

A unique and entertaining film from Tibet about two young monks desperate to find a way of watching the 1998 World Cup Final in their monastery.

This gentle, but very funny film demonstrates the extraordinary ability of football to reach all corners of the world. In this case, a group of junior monks are desperately trying to find a television in order to watch the World Cup Final, exploring universal themes of tradition vs modernity in a tender, accessible manner.

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Chariots of Fire

CertU

Age group11+

Duration124 mins

Chariots of Fire(1981)

This film is based on the true stories of two runners, Eric Liddell and Harold Abraham, taking part in the 1924 Olympics.

With its instantly recognisable theme tune, this classic Oscar-winning British drama about two very different men competing for the 1924 Paris Olympics still retains its hold over audiences. Exploring issues around class, identity and religion, most of all the film is an uplifting triumph against adversity story and compelling piece of social history.

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Space Jam

CertU

Age group7–14

Duration84 mins

Space Jam(1996)

A wacky comedy mixing live action and animation, in which the Looney Tunes gang have to fight for their freedom in a cosmic game of basketball.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan teamed up with Bugs Bunny and co in this very silly, but extremely fun mixture of animation and live-action. More than twenty years since its release, the film remains a favourite of young audiences and has even inspired a forthcoming sequel.

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Million Dollar Arm

CertPG

Age group11–16

Duration119 mins

Million Dollar Arm(2014)

Feel-good film based on the true story of two American sports agents scouring India for new baseball stars.

The game of cricket remains relatively obscure in the United States, whereas in India it is a fanatical way of life. This warm comedy drama, based on a true-story brings the two worlds together when a struggling American sports agent heads to India hoping to persuade some talented young recruits to head back with home and play baseball instead.

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Cool Runnings

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration94 mins

Cool Runnings(1993)

Cheerful comedy about how hot and sunny Jamaica came to enter a bobsled team in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

This riotous, uplifting film about the unlikely true story of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team has deservedly become a family classic, a wonderfully warm underdog story that continues to put smiles on audiences faces.

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The Mighty Ducks

CertPG

Age group7–11

Duration99 mins

The Mighty Ducks(1992)

A disgraced lawyer is sentenced to community service coaching a hopeless team of junior ice hockey players. Can he steer them towards success?

Haunted by his own lack of success as an athlete, troubled lawyer Gordon Bombay is reluctantly faced with the challenge of coaching the worst junior ice hockey team in the league. But as the team gradually improve under his leadership, it seems their fortunes - and Gordon's own - might just start to improve as they learn to work together.

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Seabiscuit

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration135 mins

Seabiscuit(2003)

Inspiring film about a seemingly weak horse with a half-blind jockey who became legends, giving people hope in the '30s Great Depression.

During the height of the depression in America during the 1930s, the unlikely success of a plucky horse named Seabiscuit and his half-blind jockey served as a symbol of hope for a nation in the doldrums. An extraordinary underdog story, told in entertaining, Oscar nominated fashion.

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Believe

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration95 mins

Believe(2013)

Touching fictional tale about legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby helping a talented but wayward young footballer fulfil his dreams.

This gentle, warm-hearted British drama, imagines that legendary manager Sir Matt Busby took on the coaching of a local under 11 side in his retirement, and help a wayward boy to fulfil his dreams.

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The Cup

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration90 mins

The Cup(1999)

A unique and entertaining film from Tibet about two young monks desperate to find a way of watching the 1998 World Cup Final in their monastery.

This gentle, but very funny film demonstrates the extraordinary ability of football to reach all corners of the world. In this case, a group of junior monks are desperately trying to find a television in order to watch the World Cup Final, exploring universal themes of tradition vs modernity in a tender, accessible manner.

Read more
Chariots of Fire

CertU

Age group11+

Duration124 mins

Chariots of Fire(1981)

This film is based on the true stories of two runners, Eric Liddell and Harold Abraham, taking part in the 1924 Olympics.

With its instantly recognisable theme tune, this classic Oscar-winning British drama about two very different men competing for the 1924 Paris Olympics still retains its hold over audiences. Exploring issues around class, identity and religion, most of all the film is an uplifting triumph against adversity story and compelling piece of social history.

Read more
Million Dollar Arm

CertPG

Age group11–16

Duration119 mins

Million Dollar Arm(2014)

Feel-good film based on the true story of two American sports agents scouring India for new baseball stars.

The game of cricket remains relatively obscure in the United States, whereas in India it is a fanatical way of life. This warm comedy drama, based on a true-story brings the two worlds together when a struggling American sports agent heads to India hoping to persuade some talented young recruits to head back with home and play baseball instead.

Read more
Strictly Ballroom

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration90 mins

Strictly Ballroom(1992)

Warm-hearted spoof on ballroom dancing from Baz Luhrmann, in which a shy dancer falls for the maverick son of a local dance school owner.

This characteristically flamboyant debut from Aussie director Baz Lurhmann uses the backdrop of the national ballroom dancing championships to challenge stereotypes and present a fabulous story of love, life and laughter.

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Invictus

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration128 mins

Invictus(2009)

Drama about South Africa's 1995 hosting of the Rugby World Cup and the way the controversial event was made a success in the racially tense nation.

Rarely have sport and politics been brought together as importantly as in the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Clint Eastwood's stirring recreation examines the tournament from the perspective of the team's white captain Francois Pienaar and Nelson Mandela, newly elected president just a year after the end of apartheid. What followed is the stuff of sporting legend.

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Next Goal Wins

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration93 mins

Next Goal Wins(2014)

Moving documentary about American Samoa – officially the world's worst football team – and their attempts to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

American Samoa were ranked by FIFA as being officially the worst international football team in the world. Thankfully, that did not put them off and this wonderful documentary follows their quest to qualify for the World Cup. The end result may not be entirely surprising, but the message, about taking part and the importance of community, is put forward in inspirational fashion

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Creed

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration113 mins

Creed(2015)

Can naturally talented boxer Adonis make a career in the ring without the help of his famous father’s name?

The long-running Rocky saga receives a dramatic jolt-in-the-arm in this brilliantly entertaining account of young Adonis Creed seeking to make his name in boxing without trading on his father's legacy, with help from a certain legendary coach. The film plays on the iconography that made the series so beloved, but also takes it in a fresh, modern and distinctive new direction.

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When We Were Kings

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration83 mins

When We Were Kings(1996)

Fascinating documentary about the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing match in Zaire, which also sheds light on Muhammad Ali's enduring appeal.

This fascinating documentary explores the background behind the famous 'Rumble in the Jungle' between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in 1974. Unpacking what makes Ali such an inspiring, important political figure without forgetting his unique prowess in the ring, the film vividly captures the symbolic possibilities of sport and contains a funky, pulsating soundtrack.

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Offside

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration87 mins

Offside(2006)

Warm and original Iranian film about a group of girls prohibited from entering a football stadium who will do whatever it takes to get in.

This Iranian comedy uses the backdrop of a football match in order to explore issues around gender and discrimination in the country. A group of girls are desperately trying to get into the national team's crucial World Cup qualifying match, but are told it is a male only environment. But one girl is determined to do whatever it takes to get a sight of the action.

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The Armstrong Lie

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration124 mins

The Armstrong Lie(2013)

A documentary chronicling sports legend Lance Armstrong's improbable rise and ultimate fall from grace.

Acclaimed documentary maker Alex Gibney initially set out to make a film about Lance Armstrong's unlikely return to the pinnacle of cycling following his treatment for cancer. However as time went on, a much more disturbing story began to emerge about Armstrong's use of performance enhancing drugs. The film explores the fallout of this with unique access to Armstrong himself.

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The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration104 mins

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner(1962)

British director Tony Richardson's hard-hitting coming of age tale stars Tom Courtenay as a working class kid whose athletic talent sets him apart.

In this classic piece of British social realism, a hugely promising young working-class athlete (and juvenile offender) is preparing for a race against competitors from the local public school. As the day draws nearer, he has to decide who he is competing for - the ambitious governor of his reformatory, or himself? The film's themes remain relevant and pertinent to this day.

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Looking For Eric

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration111 mins

Looking For Eric(2009)

Imagine if your idol became your life-coach. That's exactly what happens to a postman from Manchester in Ken Loach's feel-good film.

Legendary director Ken Loach is known for his crusading films about social injustice and marginalised figures in British society. This film about a Manchester postman who teams up with unlikely life-coach Eric Cantona is a comparably lighter drama, but retains the trademark Loach focus on working-class communities, capturing the unique unifying force that football can provide.

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Murderball

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration82 mins

Murderball(2005)

Canada-set sports documentary that challenges preconceptions about disability.

Murderball takes in many of the tropes of sporting documentaries - fierce rivalries, triumph-against-adversity and dramatic suspense. But here the athletes in question are competitors in an extraordinary (and often brutal) form of quad rugby played by paraplegics in armoured wheelchairs. The film uses sport to examine the individual's various lives, hopes and fears.

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Bend It Like Beckham

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration112 mins

Bend It Like Beckham(2002)

Feel good British comedy following Jessminder and Jules whose shared passion for football brings them together in a local girls' team.

This charming British comedy tells the tale of two young women from different backgrounds brought together by a shared love of the beautiful game, although for one of them playing the sport goes against her family’s strict ideas of gender roles. Exploring family, friendship, community and sexuality, the film has deservedly become a modern classic for young audiences.

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Seabiscuit

CertPG

Age group7–16

Duration135 mins

Seabiscuit(2003)

Inspiring film about a seemingly weak horse with a half-blind jockey who became legends, giving people hope in the '30s Great Depression.

During the height of the depression in America during the 1930s, the unlikely success of a plucky horse named Seabiscuit and his half-blind jockey served as a symbol of hope for a nation in the doldrums. An extraordinary underdog story, told in entertaining, Oscar nominated fashion.

Read more
Senna

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration101 mins

Senna(2010)

Thrilling, adrenaline-fuelled doc charting the professional life of the late and legendary Formula One driver, Ayrton Senna.

Brazilian F1 driver Ayrton Senna had already secured his place amongst the sport's legends before a tragic accident during a race in 1994 fatally ended his career. In this extraordinary visual documentary, the audience is placed inside Senna's car and uses a mixture of news, TV footage and home video to also take us inside his mind and examine what drives such competitiveness.

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Moneyball

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration127 mins

Moneyball(2011)

Sports drama about the manager of a struggling baseball team devising an innovative way to turn them into world-beaters.

The behind-the-scenes mechanics of professional sports teams and their recruitment policies has historically always been fairly mysterious. However this dramatization of a true-story lifts the lid on the Oakland A's baseball team and their charismatic talent scout Billy Beane. His innovative techniques influenced organisations around the world, in sport and beyond.

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Whip It

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration107 mins

Whip It(2009)

Drew Barrymore directs this hugely enjoyable alternative sports film about female bonding and finding your place in the world.

This cheerfully anarchic directorial debut from Drew Barrymore follows the fortunes of 17 year-old Bliss, who feels like a misunderstood outsider until she joins the local all-female roller-derby team. There she learns the importance of individual expression and the power of friendship, even if she does pick up a few bruises along the way.

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Shaolin Soccer

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration99 mins

Shaolin Soccer(2001)

Blend of comedy, sports and kung-fu action in which a team combining soccer skills and kung-fu on the pitch vie for a big tournament prize.

This exuberant, eccentric Chinese martial arts comedy tells the story of a down-on-his-luck footballer who strikes up a friendship with a local monk looking to spread the word about traditional fighting skills. They form an unusual alliance and set their sights on a forthcoming tournament to showcase their abilities. A crowd-pleasing adventure about life in a different society.

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Personal Best

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration89 mins

Personal Best(2012)

On the eve of the 2012 Olympics, this compelling documentary throws a spotlight on some of the young British sporting heroes hoping to compete there.

In this uplifting documentary, we follow the fortunes of a series of young athletes from different backgrounds as they pursue their goal of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics. Focusing on the art of sprinting, we gain insight into the determination it takes to compete at such a level, the elation of making it and the reality of sometimes being not quite good enough.

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Wondrous Oblivion

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration101 mins

Wondrous Oblivion(2003)

A young boy's desire to become England's next cricketing hero is at the heart of this excellent 1950s-set drama about cross-cultural understanding.

Young David is mad about cricket, but isn’t any good at it. When a new neighbour offers to be his coach, David’s fortunes improve, but unfortunately David is caught in the middle when social prejudice of the time makes life extremely difficult for his Jamaican coach and his young family. A powerful evocation of 1950s Britain and how sport can bring people together.

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