Based on a true story, Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) is a failed football coach struggling to come to terms with the loss of a family member in a car crash and the subsequent separation from his wife Gail (Elisabeth Moss). The Football Association gives Thomas the option of either being fired or taking the position of coach of the American Samoan football team. The team who infamously scored 0 to Australia’s 31 goals in the 2001 FA World Cup, and who haven’t won a game since.
Thomas reluctantly travels to American Samoa where he meets the team’s manager Tavita (Oscar Kightley). Thomas is disrespectful of Samoan culture and angry at having to take the job. But he’s also passionate about the game of football (soccer) and is determined to get the team to score at least one goal.
By the end of his time there, it’s apparent that Thomas has learnt more from the Samoans than he can teach ever them about football.
Loss of a child; marriage breakdown; racism; football
Next Goal Wins has some violence. For example:
- A mother repeatedly hits her adult son with a slipper, then throws it at her husband. She also yells at him about the marks on his face.
- The head of the Football Association talks emotionally about when his dog got old and his father killed it by drowning it.
- There’s lots of rough play on the football field.
- Thomas gets angry often and yells at the team. A video is shown of him yelling at the referee in a match.
- Jaiyah knocks Thomas to the ground when he calls her ‘Johnny’.
- A man gets hit by a bus but isn’t hurt.
- The Samoan team performs the Siva Tau (a war dance) in front of the Tongan team. They both display levels of aggression towards each other, hissing and using threatening gestures.
- Thomas throws a chair and an esky in frustration and anger.
Next Goal Wins has some sexual references. For example, Tavita tells the team that if they lose, the opponents will draw ‘lady boobs’ on his face – which they do. He asks the team how many they drew and they ask if he wants to know how many pairs or how many single boobs.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Next Goal Wins has some substance use. For example, there is quite a lot of drinking. Thomas drinks alone at home, while driving a car and, seemingly, while coaching. At one point he simultaneously orders whiskey, beer and wine at a bar.
Nudity and sexual activity
Next Goal Wins has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, 2 drunk Australian men approach Thomas, mocking him, and one of them shows Thomas a tattoo on his chest of 31-0 and a penis. They both get up very close to him and one simulates sex on Thomas’s body.
Next Goal Wins has some product placement – for example, Nike, Adidas, Hawaiian Airlines, Spam, X-Box and Coca Cola. And McDonalds is mentioned.
Next Goal Wins has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Next Goal Wins is a comedy about a real-life drama concerning the demoralising 0-31 defeat of the American Samoa soccer team by Australia in the 2001 World Cup. The movie has lots of funny moments but it does cover some serious subjects, such as death and grief, transitioning from a male to a female, and racial prejudice. It’s therefore not suitable for children under 8, and is best suited to older children, teens and adults.
The main messages from Next Goal Wins are that winning isn’t everything, and that happiness is vital to success.
Values in Next Goal Wins that you could reinforce with your children include respect for other cultures, tolerance, inclusivity, acceptance of others, and taking a strength-based approach rather than looking for failures.
Next Goal Wins could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the death of someone close to you, and how loss and grief might make you feel and act.