This documentary is amazing.
I don’t have much else to say in the way of introduction.
Shortcut #46: Kicking It
This movie has been on our Netflix instant cue for a long time, but I’ve been afraid to watch it.
A year ago, I watched The Other Final on YouTube and fell in love with it. I love soccer, and I’m a sucker for underdog stories, stories that have everything to do with will and desire and very little to do with winning, or even a possibility of winning. Why? I suppose I love tragedy, but tragedy that is wrapped around a core of hope.
After watching The Other Final I looked for similar stories and found Kicking It. But I was afraid to watch it because I feared it would be, well, disappointing. And who wants to be disappointed? Especially when watching a documentary about six homeless soccer players gearing up to play in the Homeless World Cup?
Yesterday, whether through inattention or recovering from being sick the night before or exhaustion over waiting for money to fall from the sky, my guard was down, and I chose to watch Kicking It.
Here’s the thing. I love soccer. And I find homelessness one of the saddest things in the world. One of the basic tenets behind the Homeless World Cup is the idea that the homeless involved also find homelessness sad and love soccer AND that while playing soccer they can lose themselves in the game, be a part of something again, a larger group, a surrogate family, and that they will find self-confidence again in the playing.
Of course, reinventing oneself or recovering who one used to be isn’t quite that easy. According to the statistics quoted at the end of the documentary, at least a third of the five hundred involved in the Homeless World Cup were significantly better off a year after the games then they had been.
This is encouraging, but also depressing. Though some in the film make a claim for soccer as the panacea to the world’s problems in general and homelessness in specific, what the film calls out more is simply the need for society to take homelessness and, more importantly, the homeless seriously.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the film was how it showed the variety of reasons for homelessness: economic disaster, civil war, drugs, mental issues, crime, and politics. For example, not only are there hundreds of thousands of homeless in Russia, and not only is the subject of the homeless taboo, but the homelessness there is mostly caused by villagers coming to the major cities and not having registration papers. Without those papers, they are considered illegal, and have considerable trouble getting any sort of job or place to live.
The documentary is mostly a mood piece, hitting the viewer with facts about homelessness but not delving too much into those facts. It covers the causes of homelessness just enough to provide a background for the various people the movie follows. Kicking It is designed to give a face to homelessness and to demonstrate how active compassion towards the homeless can help them find their feet again. And in that, it succeeds.