Skate soccer won’t be featured at this month’s Paralympics, but a new documentary aims to raise the profile of the bruising new sport. Rollaball will tell the story of The Rolling Rockets, an inspiring team of Ghanaian polio survivors who are pioneering an extreme sport combination of skating and soccer.
Albert K. Frimpong, coach of The Rolling Rockets and executive director of SYDOGhana (Sports and Youth Development Organisation), explains, “The first game of skate soccer was in Lagos, Nigeria, but it’s now spread throughout West Africa. We played our first international game recently against Nigeria and are hoping to host an Africa Cup of Nations next year.
Big World Cinema’s Steven Markovitz is producing the documentary, which is currently crowdsourcing production funding via a 30-day campaign on Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.
After its launch on Friday, Rollaball's campaign was immediately selected as one of Kickstarter's Staff Picks and featured on Good Pitch's curated page.
Steven co-founded Encounters, Africa¹s most prestigious documentary festival; co-produced MTV¹s Best African Movie 2010, Viva Riva!; and is producing the upcoming Jambula Tree, winner of the Arte Prize for Best Feature Film Project at Durban International Film Festival 2012.
Shelley Barry, a film director and disability rights activist, is associate producer.
She asks, “Who decides which sports are played at the Paralympics and what criteria are used? Skate soccer is one of the most gripping sports I have ever seen, so it’s a shame that its inspiring athletes won’t be represented at the games, purely because until now the players haven’t had the resources available to campaign successfully for its inclusion. We want this documentary to help change that.”
In the last week, Rollaball’s vision has received high-profile endorsements from the likes of AC Milan midfielder and Ghanaian Black Stars international Sulley Muntari; Disabled Peoples’ International; paralympian Anne Wafula Strike; The UN Special Rapporteur on Disability; World Cup Skateboarding; and South Africa¹s Department of Women, Children and People With Disabilities.
Rollaball received production funding from The National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa, won the Puma. Creative Catalyst Award in partnership with BRITDOC in 2011, and was selected out of 571 entries for the prestigious Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2012, but Steven says the current funding landscape means producers need to be more innovative than ever before.
Kickstarter is revolutionizing the film industry, because it allows the audience to take control of the commissioning process and fund what they want to watch.
Rollaball is being directed by Eddie Edwards, who also helmed the award-winning sports documentary The Fight, about South African boxing champion Andile Tshongolo.
Eddie says, “When I first met the team two years ago, I knew they were something special. These guys face massive challenges off the pitch, as polio is still stigmatized in Ghana, so many of them live on the streets and beg for a living. But despite all the odds, they’re incredible athletes who deserve to be stars. They have inspired something in me and I believe. They’ll inspire many others. Both on and off the field, their stories are legendary.”