Catholic writer Frank Cottrell Boyce scores with homeless soccer filmscript

Since its premiere on 27th March, Catholic writer Frank Cottrell Boyce’s movie The Beautiful Game has been receiving some pretty impressive reviews.

The Beautiful Game is a British sports drama film directed by Thea Sharrock and written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and stars Bill Nighy and Micheal Ward, and is based on a real event, The Homeless World Cup.

Organised by the Homeless World Cup Foundation, a social organisation which advocates the end of homelessness through the sport of association football, it is an annual football tournament where teams of homeless people from various countries compete.

The tournament was first held in 1999, and in 2008 it added a women’s competition. From 2010 onwards, all tournaments have featured both men’s and women’s teams.

The film tells the story of a squad of English homeless footballers who are led by their coach Mal to compete in Rome at the tournament. At the last minute they decide to bring with them talented striker Vinny (Micheal Ward), but he must confront his own issues and once-promising past in order to help the team and move on with his own life.

Having attended the premiere, Leslie Felperin of The Holywood Reporter praised the film as being “amusing, uplifting, and about as sugary and teeth-sabotaging as caramelised popcorn, The Beautiful Game celebrates the healing power of team sports for those who might feel pushed to society’s margins by misfortune or choice.”

Lindsey Bahr for The Independent described it as a film that “thoughtfully explores themes of redemption, invisibility, pride and sportsmanshipwithout being preachy or condescending.”

Actor Colin Farrell, who narrated a 2008 documentary about the homeless games called Kicking It, and has since become an ambassador for the foundation, was one of the main producers on the film.

“Screenwriter Frank Cotrell-Boyce also worked with the foundation and past participants to inspire the characters he’d end up writing,” said Bahr.

“It may be a movie, but it has legitimacy in its bones.”

Homeless World Cup co-founder Mel Young was on set to watch filming in Rome on The Beautiful Game.

“Our whole drive is changing people’s lives. It’s about impact. I have seen people – almost in front of my eyes – change their lives just by kicking a ball around. It is quite incredible,” said Mel.

The hope is that a whole new audience will be turned on to the incredible global football event and the way it changes lives when The Beautiful Game is streamed across the world.

“This movie will help a lot more people around the world hear about the Homeless World Cup and be inspired by these really compelling stories of people,” added Young.

Speaking at the premiere, actor Bill Nighy said that he wanted to be part of the film “because the script is really great”.

“I [also] wanted to be part of the film because Frank Cottrell Boyce is a bit of a genius, and also because I’d never heard of the Homeless World Cup, and it’s such an extraordinary phenomenon.

“The film is funny, amusing – and it’s smart,” said Nighy.

The Beautiful Game is currently available to view on Netflix.