Is Next Goal Wins Based on a True Story? Release Date, Plot, Cast, and Everything You Need to Know!

Is Next Goal Wins Based on a True Story

In “Next Goal Wins,” a film directed by Taika Waititi and released in 2023, audiences are treated to an inspiring true story. This movie brings to life the incredible journey of Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen and his experiences with the American Samoa national football team. The film is based on a 2014 documentary of the same name by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison, and it showcases the determination and resilience of a team often considered one of the weakest in the world.

The Cast

“Next Goal Wins” boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with Michael Fassbender taking on the role of Thomas Rongen. Alongside him, you’ll find a talented group of actors, including Oscar Kightley, Kaimana, David Fane, Rachel House, Beulah Koale, Will Arnett, and Elisabeth Moss. Their performances breathe life into this captivating story.

A Blend of Genres

This movie doesn’t fit neatly into one genre; instead, it blends elements of sports, comedy, and drama. Taika Waititi’s direction adds a light-hearted touch to the film, making it engaging and inspiring. While “Next Goal Wins” depicts the challenges faced by Rongen and his players, it also injects humor and heart into the narrative. The result is a portrayal of an underdog sports story that resonates with audiences on multiple levels.

Based on a True Story

If you’re wondering whether “Next Goal Wins” is based on a true story, the answer is a resounding yes. The film follows the journey of the American Samoa soccer team, led by Dutch coach Thomas Rongen, as they strive to overcome their underdog status. This story is inspired by the 2014 British documentary of the same name directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. Both the documentary and the movie focus on the real-life efforts to transform the team, making the film a fictionalized adaptation of actual events.

Cultural Authenticity in Filmmaking

Director Taika Waititi is known for his commitment to cultural authenticity in filmmaking. He believes that stories about specific cultures should be told by people from that culture or those who have lived among it. This approach aims to avoid misrepresentations and stereotypes that can occur when stories are told by outsiders. In “Next Goal Wins,” Waititi’s dedication to cultural authenticity shines through, adding depth and authenticity to the narrative.

Release Date

“Next Goal Wins” had its first showing at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2023, generating excitement among viewers. The official release for the general audience in theaters was initially scheduled for April 21, 2023, but the date was later changed to September 22, 2023, before finally settling on the November 17, 2023 release date. These adjustments allowed for additional preparations and promotions.

Overcoming Challenges

The film’s cast faced challenges attending the premiere due to restrictions imposed by the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Despite these obstacles, “Next Goal Wins” eventually made its way to audiences, marking the opportunity for people to enjoy the film on the big screen and experience the true story of the American Samoa soccer team’s journey with Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen.

The Plot

“Next Goal Wins” follows the true story of the American Samoa soccer team’s journey to overcome a devastating 31-0 loss to Australia and qualify for the FIFA World Cup. Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen, portrayed by Michael Fassbender, is tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of transforming the team from perpetual losers into winners. The film, co-written and directed by Taika Waititi, presents a unique blend of inspiration and comedy.

The narrative also introduces Jaiyah Saelua, a real-life character and a trailblazer as the first openly non-gender binary player in a FIFA qualifying match. This addition adds depth to the story and explores Rongen’s redemption arc, all while navigating the challenges faced by the team and the cultural backdrop of American Samoa.

Next Goal Wins Cast



Michael Fassbender Thomas Rongen
Oscar Kightley Tavita
Kaimana Jaiyah Saelua
David Fane Ace
Rachel House Ruth
Beulah Koale Daru Taumua
Will Arnett Alex Magnussen
Elisabeth Moss Gail
Uli Latukefu Nicky Salapu
Chris Alosio Jonah
Lehi Makisi Falepapalangi Pisa
Semu Filipo Rambo
Ioane Goodhue Smiley
Rhys Darby Rhys Marlin
Angus Sampson Angus Bendleton
Luke Hemsworth Keith
Kaitlyn Dever Nicole
Hio Pelesasa Samson
David Tu’itupou Tall David
Levy Tuiala Chief Sila
Loretta Ables Sayre Rambo’s mother
Frankie Adams Frangipani
Taika Waititi American-Samoan priest

Where to Watch

“Next Goal Wins” is initially available exclusively in theaters, meaning it won’t be immediately accessible for streaming. However, the film’s distribution by Searchlight Pictures suggests that it will eventually find its way onto Hulu. While the specific release date on Hulu remains uncertain, it’s anticipated to be sometime in early 2024. Until then, movie enthusiasts can catch it in theaters for the full cinematic experience.

Stay informed by checking for updates on when “Next Goal Wins” will be available for streaming on Hulu. In the meantime, enjoy this inspiring sports comedy-drama on the big screen.

Is Next Goal Wins Based on a True Story – FAQs

1. What is “Next Goal Wins”?
“Next Goal Wins” is a 2023 American biographical sports comedy-drama film directed by Taika Waititi. It follows the true story of Dutch-American coach Thomas Rongen’s efforts to lead the American Samoa national football team to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

2. Is “Next Goal Wins” a true story?
Yes, “Next Goal Wins” is based on a true story. It portrays the real-life events of Coach Thomas Rongen’s journey with the American Samoa soccer team.

3. When did “Next Goal Wins” premiere?
The film premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2023.

4. When was “Next Goal Wins” commercially released?
The commercial release date for “Next Goal Wins” was on November 17, 2023.

5. What is the main focus of the film’s storyline?
The film primarily focuses on Coach Rongen’s efforts to transform the American Samoa soccer team, considered one of the weakest, into a competitive force.

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