In these incredibly difficult and unprecedented times, sport may seem like an insignificant afterthought. And so it should be; contrary to what the legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said, there are things in life much more important.
But, here at Forge Sport, we do appreciate its importance. For students in particular, sport provides entertainment at the weekends, a tonic for mental health and a chance to socialise. So, with no live sport happening during this lockdown period, we’ve got the next best thing for you. We asked contributors to tell us about their favourite sports films and documentaries, so that you can still get your sports-fix while socially distancing at home. So grab some snacks, stick your feet up and enjoy.
 
I, Tonya
Miriam Küpper
I, Tonya is a drama based on the true events in the life of Tonya Harding, played by Margot Robbie. We follow the career of the promising, professional figure skater as she tries to qualify for the Olympics and become the first American woman to land a triple axel in a competition. We witness Harding’s abusive relationship with her husband, who resorts to violent tactics and death threats to get rid of one of Harding’s main competitors, Nancy Kerrigan. Harding is implicated  in his endeavours, a tag that thereon defines her career as a skater. The standout performance of Margot Robbie makes the movie special – she’s ambitious, crazy, violent and sympathetic –  as does the suspenseful cinematography during the skating scenes.
Available on Netflix
Diego Maradona
Ciara Treacy
Before watching this documentary I knew little about Diego Maradona, but by the end of it, I found myself a fully-fledged fan. More than the story of the highs and lows of the Argentine footballer’s famous spell at Napoli, director Asif Kapadia uses never-seen-before footage to submerge us in Diego’s life. From rising out of an impoverished shantytown in Buenos Aires, to being treated like a God at the height of his career, we witness the demons that can come with such success. From drug addiction to adultery, it’s a heart wrenching tale. You’ll see Maradona not only as a football player, but as a father, son, brother and husband. From the beginning to the present day, you cannot help but root for Diego; his life was no easy ride. Football fan or not, this is a must watch.
Available on All4

Diego Maradona celebrates scoring against England at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Image: Dani Yako, Wikipedia.org

 
Adam Hills: Take His Legs
James Morrissey
In Channel 4’s documentary Adam Hills: Take His Legs, we follow the journey of comedian Adam Hills as he sets out to establish the Warrington Wolves Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) team; highlighting the progression from formation to pinnacle as they face Australia’s best PDRL team in their quest to become world champions.
This heart-warming and emotional tale features all the characteristics of sport that make it so endearing, but through the lens of those who are unable to participate in the same way as their superstar counterparts. It left me with a tear in my eye more than once. The players’ honest and humorous stories show how PDRL has allowed them to thrive both on and off the pitch. As many of us are finding out during the current isolation period, this documentary truly highlights why we all need sport’s positivity in our lives.
Available on All4
The Test
Henry Clark
There has always been a certain mystique about what goes on inside the inner sanctum of an international cricket dressing room. Is it that really that different the atmosphere from club cricket? What is going through the minds of international players as they step out to perform on the biggest stage, knowing each game could be their last?
Amazon Prime’s The Test: A New Era For Australia’s Team is an eye-opening docuseries charting the return to glory of the Australian men’s national cricket team after  the ‘Sandpaper gate’ scandal cast a shadow over the game Down Under. With exclusive access to the team during last summer’s World Cup and Ashes series, viewers get a glimpse into the ‘play hard but fair’ attitude of former Aussie star turned-Head Coach Justin Langer, tasked with rebuilding the trust of a nation and its cricket team.
Available on Amazon Prime
Moneyball
Alex Brotherton
A biographical sports drama based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, Moneyball tells the story of how the Oakland Athletics use sabermetrics to change baseball forever. When several of his star players leave, general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is tasked with building a competitive squad with a restrictive budget. He turns to Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who uses data analysis to build a team of undervalued players, discarded by others, who are flawed overall but excel in particular areas of the game.
Beyond the on-field action, the film delves into the behind-the-scenes workings and politics of a major sports organisation, as Beane and Brand pitch their radical data-driven approach to recruitment against traditional, intuition based scouting. Pitt puts in a strong, emotional performance as Beane struggles to bury past demons on his mission to revolutionise baseball, and make the Championship game.
Available on Netflix 

All or Nothing: Manchester City
Ben Warner
All or Nothing: Manchester City is a detailed record of one of – if not the – best seasons in English football.. The Amazon Prime original series has been around for a while now, mainly focusing on American football and basketball teams, but they took a sojourn into soccer ahead of Manchester City’s record-breaking 2017/18 season.
Film crews embedded within the club for a year, managing to get exclusive, in-depth insights into how a major football team is run on and off the pitch, as well as emotive interviews with people from the very top to the bottom of the club. The eight episodes chart City’s progress to winning its third Premier League title, reaching a record 100 points on the last day of the season, and a wonderful bond growing between the players. As a City fan myself, I’m a little biased, but it’s definitely worth your time.
Available on Amazon Prime
Cheer
Ciara O’Sullivan
Netflix’s Cheer is a six-part docuseries about the Navarro College cheer team from Texas and their journey to the biggest competition of the year. Typically an insular sport, the series exposes the true nature of competitive cheerleading in the US, while exploring the fierce leadership, intense commitment, and extreme athleticism required to make Navarro one of the most successful teams in the country.
We learn of the personal hardships some team members had to overcome on the way, and get a real insight into the team dynamics illustrated within the programme. Documenting successes and challenges alike, by the end of the series it’s difficult not to feel emotionally invested in the Navarro cheer squad from the very beginning.
Available on Netflix
The English Game
Ben Woodcock
This miniseries drama explores the birth of the FA Cup as the peoples’ football competition. We follow the journey of Glaswegian pair Fergus Suter and Jimmy Love who sign for Darwen FC, a pioneering club in Lancashire hoping to become the first working class team to lift the FA Cup.  Both face hurdles on the pitch, against The Old Etonians in particular, and off it, as they battle issues at home and struggle to survive while working in a dying cotton industry. Suter’s cup ambition sees him leave Darwen for local rivals Blackburn FC, but will his decision be vindicated? This is a  thrilling drama that ventures beyond football into 19th century class struggles and more.
Available on Netflix
The Russian Five
Yaroslav Matveev
The Russian Five tells the story of how ice hockey team Detroit Red Wings changed the development of the NHL, reaching its first Stanley Cup for more than 40 years in the process.  The film details the difficulties, obstacles and doubts that Detroit faced in bringing famous Soviet players to the USA, an unprecedented policy at the time. Joshua Riehl strikes a balance between satisfying hardcore fans with detail and insight, while making the extraordinary tale of Scotty Bowman and his Russian players accessible and understandable to ice hockey novices.
Available on Amazon Prime (It costs £1.49 to rent, but it’s definitely worth it).
FIFA World Cup Official Film collection
Alex Brotherton
During these football-less times we find ourselves in, there is at last a shining light out there for all die-hard fans; Amazon Prime has the official films of every single men’s World Cup that has ever been played. From vintage Pelé to Maradona’s magic at Mexico ‘86, from an unplayable Ronaldo (the original) in ‘98 and ‘02 to England’s unlikely heroes in 2018, you can watch it all. With exclusive never-seen-before footage of some of the most iconic moments in World Cup history, these films are a nostalgia-ridden gold mine for football fanatics. 90 years of history, 21 tournaments, all available at the click of a button. Football is coming home, literally.
Available on Amazon Prime
 
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