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David Beckham is a man of many talents. Perhaps as well known for being Mr. Victoria Beckham as he is for his illustrious playing career in Europe’s toughest soccer leagues, Beckham is also a prolific celebrity endorser, LGBTQ advocate, entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. And now, he can add documentary star and youth coach to his inimitable resume.
Save Our Squad with David Beckham is a four-part Disney+ documentary series that follows Beckham on a mission: help an under-14 grassroots side in hardscrabble East London avoid relegation to a lower division. The team is named the Westward Boys, and they haven’t won a game all season.
He might be older, richer, and more famous than his new charges, but Beckham grew up in the same neighborhood and played in the same league when he was a boy. Thus, the series captures Beckham’s return to where his soccer career began alongside his long-shot effort to aid the Westward Boys.
From this pitch-perfect premise, the show hits all the right notes. Coaches and players give interviews appearing completely at a loss for how to win. One cries on the sideline and has to be consoled by his coach. It’s made abundantly clear that they need help.
After a drive through the old neighborhood, Beckham arrives to try and save the day. The boys are somewhat starstruck, though not enough to delay bringing up the infamous penalty kick misses Beckham had while playing for the English national team in a moment of humor that cuts through the distance between them and their coach.
This immediate familiarity gives way to some grade-A coachspeak (e.g. ”every one of you has a part to play”) and Beckham’s anecdote about getting picked last that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways. Along the way, he bonds with individual players on and off the pitch and gives them the chance to visit Wembley Stadium. And yes, there is a Bend It Like Beckham reference.
Save Our Squad premieres exclusively on Disney+ on November 9. The four-part series is worth your time because the kids are endearing, Beckham is genuine, and the show functions well as a sort of real-life version of kids sports movies, a proven formula for family-friendly entertainment if there ever was one. It hits the same emotional notes as movies like The Mighty Ducks, with the added punch that comes from knowing the stories are true.
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