The 2019 Women's World Cup ended on Sunday, and we're already feeling nostalgic for the energy, camaraderie, and excitement that enormous tournaments like this bring. It's only natural that we want to keep up the energy by watching more soccer even after the games end.
There are many famous movies about men's soccer--Fever Pitch, Green Street Hooligans, and The Damned United come to mind first, of course, as well as a half-dozen biopics about famous male soccer players. There are fewer movies about women's soccer in general, but luckily the ones that have come out have been pretty good. Whether this summer was your first time watching soccer or you've always been a lifelong fan, these movies about soccer will help take the edge off before the next season starts.
10 An Equal Playing Field (2015)
Extremely relevant to the 2019 World Cup run is this documentary about US forward Christen Press, who scored one of two goals in the US win over England in the semi-finals this year. An Equal Playing Field is a shorter documentary featured on TakePart.com, the company that was behind other documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth and Food, Inc.
The documentary looks at Press’s journey to professional soccer, including the roadblocks and circuitous path she had to take in order to make her career sustainable. Though short, this is a great documentary for anyone interested in what the business side of professional soccer looks like for women.
9 Her Best Move (2007)
This family comedy is about a 15-year-old soccer prodigy, Sara Davis. It’s a classic coming of age film. Sara is offered a chance to play on the US Women’s National Team, a dream come true. But of course, she has to juggle the realities of life as a teenager, including staying in school, romance, a part-time job and pressure at home. She begins to sacrifice everything for the game, but decides to pursue a relationship with a boy at school.
The film focuses mostly on how Sara develops her sense of self while playing soccer. The game and pressures allow her to step up and take control of her life.
8 Khartoum Offside (2019)
This 2019 documentary is about a group of young women in Khartoum trying to get enough recognition to join FIFA but facing big issues from Sudan’s Islamic government. In a really interesting sequence, one woman describes the struggle of playing in a hijab. There’s not as much context given to why women are banned from playing soccer—it’s part of the Public Order Act banning “immoral acts” like smoking and drinking—but it’s still a familiar enough story that people will understand.
The team is still marginalized, but the movie manages to remain hopeful and the woman are fearless and courageous.
7 Gracie (2007)
There are few soccer movies based on American players, but Gracie is one of them. The movie takes place in 1978, before the 1972 Title IX had really taken hold. Organized women’s soccer was still very rare in the United States. Gracie tries to cope with the death of her brother by asking her school to allow her play varsity soccer with the boys. She has to overcome her disapproving parents, the uninterested school, and an unsupportive team.
But after her family is worried by the way Gracie acts out in the wake of her father’s death, they decide to let her play. Eventually, the movie takes a happy and successful turn.
6 Dare to Dream: The Story of the US Women's Soccer Team (2005)
This sports documentary is about the rise of the US Women’s Soccer Team. The movie begins when the team was in relative obscurity in the 1980s. However, the roles of major players like Brandi Chastain, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, and Joy Fawcett allowed the team to rise beyond that to their second Olympic Gold match in 2004. The 77-minute documentary details that journey through interviews with the aforementioned five athletes.
Dare to Dream ran on HBO in 2005 and was released to DVD in 2007. Parts of it can still be found online, but it’s not on any of the major streaming platforms.
5 Let the Girls Play (2018)
This 2018 French comedy is based on a true story about the first French all-female soccer team. It started in Reims in the 1960s led by a sports journalist, Paul Coutard, and his assistant, Emmanuelle Bruno. They were told it couldn't be done, so naturally, they set out to do it.
It's a bit frustrating that the story of the first women's soccer team in France is told from the perspective of a man instead of Emmanuelle or any of the players, but the movie is still good. The movie is available for streaming on Amazon under the French title, Comme des Garçons.
4 Offside (2006)
This Iranian film directed by Jafar Panahi is about girls who want to watch a World Cup qualifying match but are forbidden from entering because of their gender. Determined to see the game, a girl disguises herself as a boy to attend the match, but is caught and put into a holding pen on the stadium roof with several other girls who tried to do the same.
Like Khartoum Offside, the conservative government doesn’t allow women in because of the supposed high risk of violence or verbal abuse against them. The film was shot in Iran in an actual stadium during an actual qualifying match for the Iranian national team. The movie was banned in Iran.
3 She's The Man (2006)
Amanda Bynes stars as Viola, a girl whose brother Sebastian is a soccer player at his elite boarding school. Her own school cut the soccer team, so when he decides to ditch for a couple of weeks, Viola disguises herself as a boy and takes his place on the team. Of course, she falls for the star player on his team, and gets herself into a weird love triangle when people believe she’s a guy.
Viola is trying to prove her coach and her ex-boyfriend wrong by winning with her bother’s team against their major rival. It’s mostly a romantic comedy but there’s plenty of scorer for the fans.
2 Football Under Cover (2008)
This German/Iranian documentary follows the attempts of German soccer player Marlene Assmann and her Iranian friend Ayat Najafi to organize a game between an Iranian and German women’s teams. The two work to bring the German women’s amateur team, BSV AL-Dersimspor, to Tehran to play the Iranian Women’s National Team. They come up against many roadblocks though, including a lack of funding, the government’s hesitation to give visas, a difficulty getting advertising for the game, strict dress codes to abide by Iran’s laws, and more.
However, the team from Berlin did make it to play in Tehran undercover. Despite all the political challenges and cultural differences, the love of soccer brought the two teams together to play a historic game.
1 Bend it Like Beckham (2002)
This 2002 movie starring Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is the story of a girl, Jess, who rebels against her conservative Sikh family to play soccer. It’s a romantic comedy to be sure, but there’s a sly undercurrent of social commentary about stereotypes of women in soccer, as well as the meeting of two cultures and how children of immigrants have to learn to navigate both.
The movie surprised critics and gained tons of popular support. It is still one of the top-rated women’s soccer movies. The title refers to David Beckham’s talent at scoring free kicks by bending a ball around a wall of defenders to score.