Football Under Cover

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The American Film Institute/ Discovery Channel Documentary Festival known as SILVERDOCS began this week. Today and tomorrow we're talking to filmmakers from the festival. We begin with Football Under Cover.* Co-director Ayat Najafi is an Iranian inspired by soccer and girl power. After seeing a documentary about a German women's soccer team, he takes on the challenge of setting up a women's soccer match between Germany and Iran — in Tehran. His co-conspirator, Marlene Assman, happens to play for a local Berlin team. They head to Tehran and meet with some intimidating officials to get permission for visas, advertising, a venue, filming... Ultimately, they score against the Iranian bureaucracy's red tape and play under the watchful eye of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. For Iranian women, soccer means freedom and power. They are not allowed at stadiums to watch games and are not allowed to play with uncovered arms or legs — or without headscarves. One Iranian player disguises as a boy when she practices at a park. Football Under Cover is about women finding empowerment in a society with limited rights. And if you've found empowerment through sport or have played under a strident regime — tell us your story.

(*As many of you know, what we Yanks call 'soccer' most of the world calls 'football')



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My sister played professional soccer in the WUSA during the three years of it's existence and found it extremely empowering as it gave thousands of young women and girls professional sports role models. Additionally, it was part of their contracts to spend time after each game meeting, greeting and signing hundreds of excited girls soccer balls, posters and t-shirts. My sister described her team-mates as being giddy and dually excited and proud to have the chance, as soccer players, to touch the lives of so many. Unfortunately, the league collapsed due to financial mishandling.

Sent by Donnie Kemp | 2:53 PM | 6-17-2008

It is always wonderful to see that as different as our leaders, politicians, and beliefs can makes us think we are different, the simplist most basic ways of interacting, sport, art, life always bring us together in equality.

Sent by Andrew | 3:00 PM | 6-17-2008

It is truly great to hear stories of empowerment through sports. I give kudos to Ayat Najafi and Marlene Assman in creating such a unique opportunity through soccer/football for women in Iran. I traveled to a children's refugee camp in the West Bank in Palestine a few years ago and met a few Italians there who were in a mission to bring the kids out of the refugee camp to play soccer in Milan, Italy. Despite the many logistical and political challenges in entering the Palestinian territories, these Italians were determined to bring change and hope to the lives of the Palestinian youth through soccer. Sports in many ways can be a powerful tool of social change.

Sent by Pablo Soledad | 3:02 PM | 6-17-2008

I am trying to find information on this film being shown in the U.S.!

Sent by Mo | 7:14 PM | 6-17-2008