'Kick It': How Coaching Soccer Became a Documentary

When my daughter Sophie was 6, she decided to try out and play soccer in our neighborhood. But there was one tiny problem. She didn't like her coach and decided she would not listen to him. So with her permission, I started to help out. Now, I was a total novice. I stuck with it, and by age 9 we had a travel or select team together. And we were pretty good!

And then we started to play this team called The Anderson Monarchs. And they would beat us 5-0, 4-0, even 8-0! Every time we played them my team would go, "oh on, not them!" They were always so amazing. So, I got to know the coach, Walter Stewart, and by the time the girls were 12 and 13, the girls from the two teams started to become friends and see each other at games and tournaments.

I dug deeper, and realized The Monarchs were the only all girls African American soccer club in the US. As I was doing research for the film, a writer from Sports Illustrated came by the field one day, and started to ask questions about the team. Two weeks later he had nominated them for Sports Team of the Year. That is when I knew this was something special. We made plans to start filming.

The Anderson Monarchs would be a feature length documentary about this all-girls soccer team competing, living, and thriving in an at-risk urban neighborhood in Philadelphia. The Anderson Monarchs are underdogs fighting a battle to change their lives.

But the Anderson Monarchs are not just a soccer club. They are a sisterhood. They represent social justice. And they are strong American girls that we never get a chance to see and hear. Over 3 years, we follow five girls, their families, and their dedicated head coach, Walter Stewart.

Coach Walt gave up a partnership in a Philadelphia law firm to become a teacher and coach all 3 teams of The Anderson Monarchs year round. His story and the story of the girls who play on the Monarchs are intimate, moving, deeply personal, and profound.

We would not just be making a film, we would be spreading the word that strong children create strong communities. We want to help inspire people to create urban soccer clubs that empower both kids and adults in communities across the US. Best of all, the basic resources are already there. All you need is a ball and the will to make it happen.

How can you help? With the funds we could raise on Kickstarter, we can move to the finish line after 3 long years of filming. Your support will be used to complete the massive job of film editing our 500 hours down to 2 hours, record the soundtrack, do the sound mix, and get the film ready for film festivals, broadcasters, and distributors by Fall. Along the way, we promise to share stories about our progress at our website here.

I just attended the 2011 Sundance Film Festival as a Documentary Directing Fellow. We have the talented composer Mario Grigorov, who did the score for the Academy Award–nominated film Precious on board. We also have four-time Emmy Award winning editor Ed Givnish. We've been very fortunate to receive support from the Philadelphia Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund for the film to get it this far.

We need your help to share this story with the world, and we’d be so grateful for your support on Kickstarter. Please join our campaign or check us out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and spread the word. Together we can inspire others with the story of The Monarchs and all they stand for.

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