The Golden Ball

The joy and madness of soccer, African style, provides the backbone of this appealing tale for all ages from the football-mad nation of Guinea. Listening to the exploits of World Cup star Roger Milla on the radio, little Bandian shows off his own soccer moves to his village buddies, but the lack of a real ball and the presence of his angry father hold his precocious talent in check. Traveling to the big city of Conakry, Bandian finally has a chance to let his skills shine; there, he encounters a coach (soccer star Salif Keita) anxious to develop talent “for the good of Africa,” and a pragmatic businessman who “sells fish, videotapes, and soccer players.” A Horatio Alger story with a soccer ball and a drum-powered soundtrack, The Golden Ball is remarkable for its vérité glimpses of Guinean life, such as the slums where Bandian takes refuge, or the electrical tower where hundreds of fans climb for one glimpse of a soccer game.

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