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CALM Review: Soka Afrika

Soka Afrika, Dir Suridh Hassan/Ryo Sanada 77mins

Out on DVD January 21st.

QPR manager, Harry Redknapp, recently said of members of his own team that they were “overpaid and average” and if you, like many, are fed up of watching Premier League footballers roll around on the floor in Oscar worthy agony, or diving to the floor more often than Tom Daley in an air raid , then the award winning feature length documentary, Soka Afrika, will come as a breath of fresh air.

There are over 1,000 African footballers currently playing for European clubs and Soka Afrika follows the very different paths of two of these players in the lead up to the World Cup 2010.  South African Kermit Erasmus, though not born into poverty as such, comes from humble beginnings and it is through the support of his family, the encouragement of the right agent and pure footballing talent, that he wins a contract with a European club.  His counterpart, Ndomo Sabo, hails from Cameroon and, though equally as talented and driven as Kermit, his family would prefer him to leave his footballing ambitions alone and find himself a job.  As the families of both of these talented young men struggle to survive in the harsh economic climates of their respective countries, the pressure on the young footballers to gain lucrative contracts with European clubs is immense.   These aspiring youngsters are playing for the chance to support their families and beyond, not so that they can date Cheryl Cole and gain VIP entry to Epping Forest Country Club.

There are shining moments of personal glory for both players involved here, but the road on which they travel in order to reach their dreams takes them miles from home, to climates and paces of life that are alien to them and often leaves them without anyone to turn to when things get tough.  Failure for these young men is not an option – if they fail themselves, then they have failed their families too.

Although the road to footballing stardom can be difficult for UK players (just ask Joe Cole, once named the UK’s answer to Messi, is still trying to realise his full potential at the age of 31), you can’t imagine the likes of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole moving to a foreign country and having to sleep rough on the streets while they try to fulfil their dreams.

Soka Afrika shows another side to the richest and most popular sport in the world and highlights the corruption inherent in the system.  It’s a good watch, extremely thought provoking and will certainly make you feel better about berating the latest Premiership player to fall out of a Faces into a bank of paparazzi when you are watching the big match with your mates next week.

8 out of 10

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