Looking back over the last few years of my writing, you find that most of the thousands upon thousands of the words I’ve written have been spent talking about the beautiful game itself: the players, the teams, the managers, the fans and the culture that surrounds it.
But in all the time I’ve spent grumbling over failed strategies and transfers, or singing the praises of the great things I’ve watched take place on the pitch, I’ve actually talked very little about the good things the game of soccer is really capable of accomplishing. And that’s a shame. Because with love of the game nearly universal across the globe, the sport has the unique power to be used as a vehicle for social change on every continent and in nearly every country and culture.
And what better way to learn just how the game is capable of giving back to the world that adores it than to speak to someone who actually keeps track of such things with video.
Enter Shilpi Gupta. An award-winning director – her documentary When the Storm Came won the prestigious Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival — Shilpi’s latest project takes an intimate look at how soccer can inspire peace among teenagers from around the world. Changing the Game follows three sets of teens from inner-city Philadelphia, AIDS-ravaged South Africa, and war-torn Israel and Palestine on their journeys from their homelands to compete in South Africa at the Football for Peace Festival as part of the 2010 World Cup.
Shilpi spoke with me about how she chose to focus on soccer’s powerful reach, about the children whom the game has helped rise above their chaotic backgrounds, and her progress on bringing Changing the Game to screens the world over. Continue reading