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Win tickets to the New York premiere of Pelada


If you love soccer, and love the way it brings people together, then you have to see the movie Pelada.

A film chronicling the world-wide travels of two soccer enthusiasts looking for soccer games in every corner of the world, Pelada is a heart-warming and inspirational film that will touch soccer lovers anywhere.

If you're a regular SBI reader you might remember when we first mentioned the moviein its early stages a year and a half ago. In the time since then, Pelada has become a critically-acclaimed film.

If you haven't seen the movie, and will be in the New York City area on Tuesday, you will have a chance to win two tickets to the New York premiere of Pelada. All you need to do is share with us your most memorable pick-up soccer story. Try to keep the stories reasonably-lengthed (don't write a book). We will pick the best story and award the author two tickets to Tuesday's premiere on Monday.

The premiere is being held on Tuesday evening (8pm, doors open at 7pm) at Legends Bar & Restaurant in Manhattan (6 W. 33rd St.) and will feature an introduction by Ethan Zohn and a Q&A after the screening with the film's makers. You can buy tickets online here, or buy tickets at the event (the venue is small  so you should buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid missing out). I will be attending the premiere and look forward to meeting some SBI readers.

If you're unfamiliar with the movie, here is the trailer:

[vimeo w=440&h=247]

NEW Pelada Trailer from Rebekah Fergusson on Vimeo.

Now, on to the contest. Share your best pick-up soccer stories in the comments section below.I will annnounce the contest winner on Monday.


  1. Yikes, my grammar is horrible. For the record, I was in a rush when I wrote this (was stuck at work and had to get to my game downtown).

  2. I will look for it. Thank you. There is a lot of good in Pelada. Personally, I hope they release a new extended version with lots of bonus features because I think they cut too much with this 90min release.

    If you have a chance, y’all should look up their travel blogs listed under “”

  3. Why wait for “Old” campaign signs??? It would be be funny to go into people’s yards with current campaign signs and invite people to start playing.

  4. Take an old campaign sign and flip it over, write on it: “Pick Up Soccer Game, Feel Free to Join in” and put it in the ground on the edge of the field wherever you’re playing. it’s easy, movable, and sturdy.

  5. Offside was good.

    Book Review Time

    Somebody mentioned Gallendo’s “Soccer in Sun and Shade” or whatever it’s called… it’s like the poetry of soccer. Unbelievably good. The closest you can come to writing about a great play.

    Also, “Miracle of Castil Di Sangro” is a fantastic book. One of the best of all time.

    If you liked Fever Pitch, read “She Stood There Laughing” it’s like Fever Pitch written by a Stoke City fan when they were in the third division and the fans couldn’t stand Tony Pulis, who would go on to be their messiah.

    For a good fiction read, check out Hollands “The Ripple Effect” which is hilarious.

    For US fans, check out “Chasing The Game” about the US World Cup Qualifying this last time around.

    Most of these books are availible used from Amazon for less then three bucks!

  6. I don’t know that there will be anything in the film that you couldn’t get from reading “Soccer against the Enemy” or “How Soccer Explains the World”, but I guess if you’re not much of a reader this might help you. I, for one, hope it helps some of my non-soccer fan friends see the beautiful world of soccer for the first time. I have lots of friends who I couldn’t get to go to a game or to read any of the classic books that I could probably drag to see this movie.

  7. you should see it. i thought it was going to be full of lessons too, but they don’t do the MTV “i learned so much in the end” approach, thank god. it’s not about the two white kids and what they learn – instead the film’s focus is just a bunch of personal stories of people all over the world and why these people play the game. and these stories that they found are funny, touching, and at times, amazing. i don’t think the filmmakers push any messages or try to draw any overarching conclusions – just wait for the scene in jerusalem that they just let play out.

    and coming from a filmmaker (which i am), if anyone is going to be critical of two privileged white kids slumming it, it’s going to be the trendy left-wing film festival panels. the legit documentary world eats films alive for doing that and spits them out. the fact that they aren’t skewering this movie, but instead are giving it accolades, says something.

  8. It’s not at all preachy. Far from it. It’s very smart, extremely brave, and it never becomes predictable. Mostly it speaks to how people from all walks of life, young and old, form a life-long devotion/obsession to the game no matter where they live. I haven’t seen the Zidane film, but this is the best soccer movie I’ve seen since the Iranian film Offside.

  9. I’ll try to see it. I don’t like being preached at and the trailer suggests this one might be a bit preachy.

    Doubt it will be better than my favorite soccer movie of all time (Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait), but I’ll give it a chance.

  10. Ray Hudson loves Pelada the way he loves Riquelme, Messi, and Xavi. If you let politics keep you from seeing it, you’ve missed the point — and the movie.

    Pelada is way more cultural than political. It reminds us that people, especially the poor, still own the game, not the corporations or even the leagues they sponsor.

    I’ve read Foer and Simon Kuper and Eduardo Galeano. Pelada is a worthy companion to their work.

    See it before you get too carried away with left-wing, intellectual conspiracy theories. And what’s wrong with left-wing intellectuals anyway? Don’t they love soccer too?

  11. With all due respect, I’m not “right wing.” Based on what I saw in the trailer, the film looks like a series of left-wing cliches.

    As for politicization, how can you include a scene from Iran in which a woman is not allowed to play with men and then imply that this film is apolitical? Of course it’s political.

    Soccer is BY FAR the most politically charged sport on the planet. Read Phil Ball’s Morbo or Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World . . . every game is an historical and cultural microcosm. And I’m not even going to get into how FIFA operates . . .

    On another note, Ray Hudson is king, so if he likes it the film can’t be all bad.

  12. You will have to figure out where, but around the world, the general rule for when is after 5PM people start to trickle in, kick a ball around and by 5:30 or 6PM begin to start playing games until dark.

  13. 1994: At the age of 9, my parents took my sister and me on a 2 month vacation to Italy. It so happened that we were in Italy for the duration of the World Cup in the US. I had been playing soccer since I was 4 but never watched much on TV. When the US was eliminated on July 4th, we were in Florence. Having rented an apartment that overlooked Santa Croce square, I saw about 7 kids playing soccer on the concrete one night. Being inspired by the World Cup games on TV, especially by the play of Roberto Baggio, I went down to the square and walked into the pickup game. I barely spoke any Italian, they barely spoke English but they allowed me to jump in. All you really needed to know was “pass” and “goal”. We played on a cobblestone “field” across the width of the square, using the underpass of the cement benches as our goals. My family and I were in Florence for two weeks. Every night after dinner I met the same 7 kids and played until my parents called me in for bed. Those nights in the square, playing pickup soccer, are really what began my love affair with the beautiful game.

  14. Where are there pick-up games in the New York area? Just trying to find places and days/times to go for games… You would think this would be easy to find but haven’t come across any; everyone seems to play in leagues…

  15. I hosted a screening of Pelada in Hollywood, Florida during the World Cup and it was attended by 216 people. Gwendolyn sold out 53 DVDs in the lobby within five minutes of the movie ending. Among those in attendance were Ray Hudson, Fernando Clavijo, Thomas Rongen, Phil Schoen and then Miami FC coach Victor Pastora. Ray helped introduced the film with a glowing review after seeing it beforehand. Clavijo, Rongen and Pastora each came up to me afterwards to thank me for screening this remarkable movie. They were impressed and touched by how this film captures the essence of our game.

    It’s a pity that anyone would politicize even this. Is there anything the right wing approves of?

    I can’t imagine anyone who loves soccer — or likes soccer — not falling in love with this movie. Pelada shows you why this is the greatest game of earth. It deserves the support of the soccer community.

    Jeff Rusnak

    South Florida Sun-Sentinel soccer columnist

  16. also, i haven’t seen the film, but i think its probably more interesting than you predict. more than just cheesy “epiphanies” it looks like they filmed a lot of great pick up soccer in poor neighborhoods in countries where pick up soccer is a huge part of the culture. it’s something that’s inherently interesting. if they stay true to the premise and really capture with some honesty the soccer and the people playing, it could be good.

  17. an introduction to the beautiful game

    on the edge of the baltic
    in the shadows of a 15th century castle
    during summer where the evenings never ended
    because the sun never set

    students and professors from different countries
    different studies
    boys and girls on a makeshift pitch
    swedes, russians, germans, dutch
    spanish, brazilian
    american. (me)

    as my out of shape body strained to breathe in the crisp baltic air
    i looked across the pitch and off into a slowly setting sun.
    i knew this was soccer.

    i’ve never looked back. only further out on the horizon.

  18. A couple of privileged white kids travel the world playing pick-up soccer. They have “their eyes opened” through a series of sociological/intercultural epiphanies, concluding in the end that soccer “brings people together.” They film all of this. A series of panels at trendy film festivals, populated mostly by left-wing, white intellectuals, gives said film awards and praises its “subversive” qualities.

    Sorry to be so cynical after seeing only the trailer, but where am I wrong?

  19. Back in either 2003 or 2004, I went to Guatemala (near Lago de Atitlan) with a few friends. We were walking along this road in the middle of nowhere, shocked by the apparent poverty. As we walked by what we thought was an abandoned house–it was made of concrete on dirt w/ a metal roof, no doors or windows, and nothing inside. Outside, in the “driveway” area, we could see a few kids playing soccer with a little, plastic ball. Without really being able to communicate, they invited my friend Jeff and I to play in their game. The girls we were with spent time with the little girls and mother, showing them a digital camera, which seemed to excite them immensely. As Jeff and I played these kids, other kids from the area would walk by and join in…I guess having fun playing w/ the Gringos. I couldn’t help but notice one of the kids happened to be wearing a pair of cleats, and the other kids seemed to be pretty jealous. Unfortunately for him, the cleats were way too small and completely ripped open, so his toes were sticking completely out of the front of them. It looked like he had cut the front off of a child’s size so he could fit his foot in. In the end, we ended up playing for a while before Jeff sprained his ankle on the weird plastic-like rubber ball. At this point, we proceeded to buy all the kids (and the mother) soda’s from a local vendor…which cost us something ridiculous like $5. The kids thanked us, and we went on our way. In the end, it was a very memorable experience.

  20. On Wednesday i scored a golazo from about 25 yards out on the volley for my high school team. Im a senior captain this year and I play right back. I havent scored in an organized high school game since 7th grade in my first game. It was the game winner as well.

  21. I grew up in Las Vegas (I’m 46 years old). I’ve played thousands of pickup games of basketball, some football and some baseball. I played soccer in high school in the early 80’s but kids didn’t play the game in the streets. After high school I didn’t play another game until about 6 years ago. I’ve been playing regularly since.

    I never played a pickup game of soccer until a couple of years ago. I guess technically it isn’t a true pickup since I was invited to play by daughter’s Romanian coach. The start of the game is just like the old school pickup games I remember. A couple of the better more experienced players choose sides. Much like your game with the Egyptians the game transcends any language barriers. We have a lot of Romanians, several african players, and numerous south american players. I get teased for playing like a “gringo” (which I do). Skill levels range from outstanding to pretty mediocre.

    We have a regular pickup game every Sunday morning also. Like you, I very much look foward to playing on Sundays….even when the Romanians start complaining in Romanian 🙂

  22. Wow I was thinking about this not too long ago and I wondered whatever happened to those guys and whether they got their funding to film the rest. I do want to see this.

  23. me and some friends in Charleston, SC have formed a regular pick-up game every Sunday with some Egyptians living in Charleston. it’s really cool because they don’t speak English well at all and we certainly don’t speak Arabic. but, nonetheless, we split up teams evenly with the same number of Americans and Egyptians on each side, and we just play the game the way it should be played. the language barrier is quite obvious, but the language of the sport is universal. it really shows how the sport is just in us, and we don’t have to speak at all to read what we are thinking. you would honestly think we knew each other for years, as we can just simply read each other’s body language. none of us are that great, but i love how the game transcends culture, race, nationality, etc. what a truly beautiful game soccer is

  24. I played 6v6 with college friends on a beach off La Rambla against two Italian tourists, a Moroccan fruit vendor, and two guys selling purses from Ghana. That had to have been the funnest game I’ve ever been in.

    Also in Barcelona, I played a short sided pick up game at Park Güell, which is a work of Gaudi. Definitely the coolest location I played in. They actually play there a lot, they have a rotating team system. Kind of wild.

    I’ve also played in Sorrento, Paris, London, Dominican Republic, Toronto, NY, LA, and Mexico, but those two stand out.

  25. In 1981, as a 9-year-old, I spent two months visiting family in Thessaloniki, Greece. One Saturday while visiting my grandparents in the small mountain village of Kolindros, my mother ushered me towards the village platea — the town square — to get me out of from under her feet while she was preparing a meal for everyone. “Go make some friends,” she said.

    So I walked with my cousins and sister to the platea. Some older boys were there, organizing a pick-up soccer game. The conditions were less than optimal. The ball was utterly deflated and the platea was completely paved with cobblestones and asphalt, and most of the kids were wearing the same overalls and boots they had worn every day after school to pick tobacco in the fields with their fathers. I was the youngest there by far, and when I asked to be included was told that I was “poli micros” — too small. But I begged them to let me play, and as they were short a goalkeeper I was permitted to defend a makeshift goal created by two wooden garbage barrels. I got picked on quite a bit, and finished the day with a bloody nose, stoved finger, and tear-stained cheeks. But by the end of the day I had earned my place. The tormenting had turned into playful badgering, and strangers had become friends. Although I had previously played on my grade school JV team back in Erie, PA, I can nevertheless pin-point that pick-up game in Kolindros as the real beginning of my love for soccer, the reason I now need the sport like others need air.

    In 2002, as a 30-year-old, I returned to Kolindros for the first time since that Saturday, and was so looking forward to visiting the platea and seeing the dirty cobblestones and wooden barrels. But even in that poor, mountain village, things had changed: the cobblestones had been replaced by manicured grass and the platea was lined with quaint coffee shops. I’m not sure why I had expected time to stand still — naive nostalgia, I guess — but I was very sad to see the transformation that had taken place.

    I was soon consoled, however, when a group of young boys raced by me and started a pick-up game (gone were the overalls, mini-PAOK and Iraklis kits in their place). I found myself playfully asking if they needed another goalkeeper … and was told I was “poli megalos.” Too big, naturally. While I resisted begging them to let me play, I was reminded that soccer, just like the rest of the world around us, at once constantly changes and stays exactly the same.

  26. The most memorable pick-up games of my youth started with my friends sharing a can of Coke during recess.

    I can finish one now on my own without trying, but then you could pass a can around a couple times, even with six thirsty little kids.

    The kid who had the last sip had the duty, honor, responsibility to drop the can on the ground, stop on it, and call “Game On.”

    From that point on -until the nuns would wag a bell at us, summoning us back to class- the next chapter of an unsettled score was played out between sixty pound kids on a sugar high, working feverishly to maneuver a flattened soda can between the other kids’ jackets..I mean goal.

    At first try, you can’t do much with a flattened piece of aluminum. But renewing the battle time and time again, you develop a repertoire of spin moves and passes, even an ability to scoop the can up to volley it to an open team mate. The scarred asphalt we left behind was a clear indication of what we were able to do.

    Back in class –the latest chapter ended- little beacons of joy and anger would be scattered through the room. Hiding behind a content and alert student you would find a battle-scarred combatant: tussled hair, sweaty, white shirt-tail out, collar ripped, blue pants scuffed or torn.

    When the teacher would turn her back to the class, one of the guys would reach into his backpack, pull out a fresh can of Coke and put it safely in view of the others. The game will be renewed again.

  27. Definitely recommend this doc. I saw it at Blind Lady Ale House in San Diego, CA. Gwen and Luke travel the world looking for soccer pick up games and find themselves in some interesting situations. I met Gwen and invited her to our soccer pick up in San Diego and she came out 🙂 If you like soccer, sociology, documentaries, and being inspired this is a must see. – email me if u have any questions about the film or come play with us if you are ever in town!

  28. ALSO showing in Seattle

    September 23
    Seattle, WA – buy tix
    7:00 pm – Cinebarre Mountlake
    6009 244th St SW
    Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043
    Q&A with Gwendolyn Oxenham following the show


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