Previous
Zenit St Petersburg
AS Monaco
ESPN3 4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Madrid
Juventus
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Malmo FF
Olympiakos
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Basel
Liverpool
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Real Madrid
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bayer Leverkusen
Benfica
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Anderlecht
Borussia Dortmund
ESPN3 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Arsenal
Galatasaray
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Leeds United
Reading
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Huddersfield Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Fulham
Bolton Wanderers
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Puebla
UNAM
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
America
Veracruz
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
Pachuca
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Chiapas
U. de G.
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Tijuana
Cruz Azul
2:45 AM GMT
Game Details
Ottawa Fury FC
Atlanta Silverbacks
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Libertad
River Plate
6:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Bahia
César Vallejo
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Emelec
Goiás EC
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Atlético Nacional
EC Vitória
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
San Lorenzo
Olimpo de Bahía Blanca
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes La Plata
Independiente
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Crucero del Norte
Sp. Belgrano
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
All Boys
Sarmiento de Junín
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Santa Marina
Atlético Tucumán
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión de Santa Fe
Patronato
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Boca Unidos
Colón de Santa Fe
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Instituto de Córdoba
Guaraní A. Franco
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Rivadavia
Huracán
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
Aldosivi
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Cruzeiro
ABC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Botafogo
Santos FC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Corinthians
Atlético MG
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
América RN
Flamengo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Los Caimanes
Inti Gas Deportes
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Unión Comercio
Universitario de Deportes
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Cristal
Real Garcilaso
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
León de Huánuco
César Vallejo
Postp
Game Details
Guaraní
3 de Febrero
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo Capiatá
Sportivo Luqueño
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Libertad
Nacional
11:10 PM GMT
Game Details
General Díaz
Olimpia
11:40 PM GMT
Game Details
Mushuc Runa
U. Católica
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Manta F.C.
Barcelona
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Olmedo
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
El Nacional
LDU Quito
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Deportivo Quito
12:15 AM GMT
Game Details
Club Petrolero de Yacuiba
The Strongest
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
San José
Oriente Petrolero
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Western Sydney Wanderers
FC Seoul
2
0
LIVE 83'
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
CD Dragon
Alianza FC
Postp
Postponed - now being played Wed, Oct 1
Game Details
Valledupar F.C.
Atlético Junior
8:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Patriotas F.C.
Once Caldas
12:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Next
Aug 28, 2011

Pelada

Rating:

I had not previously heard of Pelada, a film handed to me last week by my colleague Mark Lomas - heck, I didn't even know what it meant. Hence, when inserting the DVD, I had not an iota of prejudice ahead of the viewing, no expectations of whether it would be a compelling watch or, instead, 92 minutes I'd never get back. I can gladly reveal it proved to be the former.

A young American couple, Luke Boughen and Gwendolyn Oxenham, both had dreams of 'making it' as professional football/soccer players, of carving out a career from the game. Alas, despite possessing passion and talent, their goals slipped from their grasps. Yet, football, like a drug, continued to course through their veins - they could not shake the feeling of having a ball at one's feet. "It's not easy to quit," remarks Gwendolyn during the opening seconds of the film.

So, Luke, working for a billboard company at the time, and Gwendolyn, an aspiring writer, put their heads together and concocted a plan, a plan to travel the world, visiting 25 countries, to soak up the footballing culture it has to offer. Their facility for doing this would be pelada, and they would document their journey, eventually amounting over 400 hours of footage.

In Brazilian, 'pelada' translates, roughly, as 'naked'; the game stripped back to its unashamedly bare bones. To our English readers, the nearest translation is 'a kick-about': jumpers for goalpoasts. For Americans, it's pick-up soccer. No pristine pitches, no sponsors; no polish. This is the beating heart of football, likely when most were first initiated into the sport's charm and addictive hold. And, as the opening shots unravel, the visual juxtapositions between peladas and commercial football become apparent.

Their first stop is Brazil, where it seems the country's natives play football in their sleep, as well as on the beaches and streets. And it is here that the viewer begins to learn about the true meaning of pelada, and also gain an insight into what drives Luke and Gwendolyn. They meet a young girl, nicknamed 'Ronaldinha', whom is devilishly gifted and has the same aspirations that the American pair had when they were in their tender years. This appears an emotional parallel for Gwendolyn.

And herein is the start of a captivating personal story that runs through the piece alongside the wonder of travelling. From continent to continent, the duo portray the delight of experiencing a new country and culture in the best way possible: by mixing with the locals. Here, football serves as the ice-breaker, the chance for Luke and Gwendolyn to play alongside Bolivians, Argentines, Chinese, Iranians, and more. It demonstrates football's universal language, its ability to bring people to together, not through discourse but by through love of the sport.

This piece is produced in accomplished style. You feel every kick, flick and shoulder barge, while the soundtrack - which to this scribe's delight included a track from We Were Promised Jetpacks - keeps the rhythm beating along. That the footage often relies on the diverse scenery to do the talking is testament to its honesty. You will discover that Luke and Gwendolyn are good footballers, very decent indeed, although contrasting in their styles. It helps that these are likeable people, too, fearless in the face of alien climates, armed with just a football and only on occasion a grasp of the language.

Sometimes, you sit down, fix your eyes on a screen, and a chord is struck - you have an affinity with what the filmmakers are trying to achieve and portray. You don't have to be a football fan to 'get' this hour-and-a-half - for the human, and even at points political and religious, element is enough a draw as any to suck you in. If you are a football fanatic, though, without question you are going to love the journey that Pelada takes you on.

• For information on how to buy Pelada, click here.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.