Is Bill Nighy’s ‘The Beautiful Game’ based on a true story?
(Credit: Netflix)

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Is Bill Nighy’s ‘The Beautiful Game’ based on a true story?

Netflix is about to drop Thea Sharrock’s The Beautiful Game, starring Bill Nighy and Michael Ward in the lead. This feel-good drama written by Frank Bryce may not be based on a true story, but it is inspired by one, most notably the Homeless World Cup.

Nighy takes the lead in the underdog sports drama, The Beautiful Game, which is centred around the Homeless World Cup (HWC), a real-life football tournament that celebrates the talents of homeless athletes globally. 

Produced by HWC ambassador Colin Farrell and Blueprint Pictures’ team, the film follows the journey of the English team as they gear up for the prestigious global tournament. Nighy portrays Mal, the manager of England’s homeless football team, who aims to lead his players to victory at the Homeless World Cup held in Rome. 

The story unfolds as Mal decides to enlist the skills of Vinny, a gifted striker played by Ward, with the potential to tilt the odds in their favour. However, Vinny must confront his past and integrate into the team for a chance at success.

Before you watch the film, you can read our review of The Beautiful Game and read on to know the story that inspired it.

The true story that inspired The Beautiful Game

The Homeless World Cup, established in 2001, serves as the inspirational backdrop for The Beautiful Game. Founded by Mel Young and Harald Schmied, the tournament has since become a global phenomenon, engaging nearly 70 countries and attracting over 1.2million participants. Initially featuring men’s teams, the event expanded to include women’s competitions in 2008. 

However, from 2010 onwards, every tournament has featured both men’s and women’s teams as we see in the film. The Homeless World Cup Foundation advocates for the end of homelessness, raising awareness through their events and also providing opportunities for the players to rebuild their lives.

Many of the players are either asylum seekers, addicts in recovery, or individuals who have become homeless in the past year or two. The matches are played on synthetic turfs with four players and one goalie on each side, plus there are three players in the outfield at all times. Each game consists of 14-minute matches that are very similar to futsal, which has five players on each side as well.

So, there may not be a Vinny, Nathan, Aldar, or Rosita out there, but the people who inspired these characters are very much real people. Rooted in the rich legacy of the Homeless World Cup, The Beautiful Game celebrates the indomitable spirit of individuals striving for redemption and belonging.

You can watch The Beautiful Game on Netflix from March 29th, 2024.