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Football Film Thursdays: The Beautiful Game

It's Thursday, and we like football here's Football Film Thursday

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There are certain films and TV shows that will forever sit in 'My List' on Netflix. I'll eventually get round to starting House of Cards and I'll soon find an evening to sit down to watch all of West of Memphis or both parts of Nymphomaniac.

There are quite a few football documentaries in that list, but motivation has been lacking since watching a very dull Thierry Henry story. But after some deliberation I sat down to watch The Beautiful Game.

Directed by Victor Buhler, who amongst other things has also directed 7 episodes of Supersize vs Superskinny, it focuses on the different roles football has across Africa, mainly focusing on central countries in the continent.

The tone ranges from the fairytale story of Emmanuel from Ghana, who earns a fully paid scholarship to California, to Patrick in Cameroon who hands over all his money to a mysterious agent in the hopes of earning trials in Yugoslavia, a country which no longer exists. It is inspirational and heartbreaking in equal measures. Emmanuel, whose full name is Emmanuel Agyenim Boateng is the message of hope for many.

He currently plays in Sweden for Helsingborgs, although he ended up paying for his own flight to accept their invitation to come and train with them.

The message of the documentary seems to be a bit lost, but this seemingly reflects the attitude towards the sport in the continent. It has been responsible for many great acts, such as a the ceasefire in the Ivory Coast during the 2006 World Cup, but stories like Patrick's are worryingly far too common and in many cases far worse, as we saw in the summer when FIFPro unveiled that players as young as 14 were being trafficked from West Africa to Laos.

It's a fascinating insight, and features interviews with some fairly prominent footballers, including Lucas Radebe, Kolo Toure, Sulley Muntari and Roger Milla, as well as words from Jose Mourinho, Femi Kuti, Desmond Tutu and Frederik Willem de Klerk.

Not only does it highlight the role of escapism the sport has, but it briefly demonstrates the outlet it is providing for disabled children in Kenya. Here it is Francis, who is paralysed in his left leg after contracting polio, who uses the power of the sport to give confidence and a feeling of inclusion to people who would otherwise have none, as he had suffered himself.

So click 'Add To My List' the next time you scroll across it on Netflix, but don't let it wait there forever.

House of Cards can't be that good, right?

Verdict: 4/5