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SIDELINE

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In the bowels of the European football world, where the contrast between success and failure is particularly stark, African youths pursue their dream of a successful football career.
For poor African boys and their families, football is a popular way of escaping what is often a desperate situation. On every African street corner, from dawn till dusk, kids and youngsters can be found kicking around a ball. They hope their football talents and skills will help them break down the gates of Fortress Europe. They all share one and the same goal: to follow in the footsteps of African football heroes such as Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré. They often play for small unofficial “teams” or “football academies”. Most of the time on dusty makeshift pitches with no changing facilities or proper goals. Self-proclaimed coaches lack the expertise and contacts to really make a difference for these young footballers. The players are given food and with a bit of luck football boots. But they are rarely paid. For many, crossing over to Europe appears to be the ideal way of escaping their desperate situation. Every year, 15,000 African footballers travel to Europe to pursue their football dream. Most of them will never be able to realise their sporting ambitions, but they will stay on in Europe, often without papers and a support network. These stranded players can be found on little pitches in the backstreets of all major European cities. They continue training to keep fit and hope that one day they
will achieve a major breakthrough. ‘SIDELINE’ follows three of these players at two of these pitches: DE LUCHTBAL in Antwerp and LA ROUE in Brussels.

Feature Documentary / Sports
Length 52’/70’ HD
Film by Joost Wynant
Production Visualantics for VRT, 2018
Original title Sideline
Completion December 2018