Loved The Beautiful Game? Explore 8 Sports Movies Just Like It

Directed by Thea Sharrock, ‘The Beautiful Game’ follows the uplifting journey of a poverty-stricken team of English football players competing in the Homeless World Cup in Rome. Coach Mal is preparing his team for the tournament and decides to recruit Vinny, a striker who was on the path to being a pro but is now facing homelessness. As they arrive in Rome, Vinny fails to work with the team and tries to win games by himself. His behavior causes friction with the other players and prompts him to introspect and make peace with his past. Inspired by the true events of the Homeless World Cup, the Netflix production is a lighthearted sports movie that charms with its setting, likable characters, and inspiring message. These are some movies like ‘The Beautiful Game’ to enthrall you with their unique stories of hard work, perseverance, and triumph.

8. Sugar (2008)

In the heart of the Dominican Republic, a young baseball player named Miguel Sugar Santos dreams of making it big in the Major Leagues. Guided by his coach and fueled by his talent, Sugar impresses scouts and earns a spot with a minor league team in Iowa. As he arrives in the US, he faces the challenges of a new culture and grapples with the pressures of professional sports. Faced with unexpected setbacks and personal struggles, he learns that success often comes with sacrifices beyond the game.

Under the direction of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, ‘Sugar’ paints an authentic portrait of South American players entering American baseball leagues and the trials and tribulations they go through. The film is characterized by understated and lifelike performances by its actors, many of whom are real-life players. If you liked ‘The Beautiful Game’ for its exploration of poverty, sports, and cultural exposure, ‘Sugar’ will be a gripping watch.

7. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

In ‘Bend It Like Beckham,’ director Gurinder Chadha introduces us to Jess, a British-Indian teenager whose passion for football clashes with her traditional Sikh upbringing. Despite her family’s disapproval, Jess dreams of playing professionally like her idol, David Beckham. When she joins a local women’s team without her parents’ knowledge, Jess finds herself torn between her love for the sport and her desire to please her family. Alongside her teammate Jules (Keira Knightley), Jess confronts societal norms and familial pressures while returning to the football field one way or another. Similar to ‘The Beautiful Game,’ ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ is full of humor and heart for football and shows an unlikely group of players as they celebrate their lives through the game.

6. The Damned United (2009)

Directed by Bill Paxton, ‘The Damned United’ narrates the humorous and electrifying tale of provocative coach Brian Clough (Michael Sheen) as he takes over charge of Leeds United, overhauling their dirty playing style. Fueled by his desire to prove himself, Clough takes on the daunting task of managing Leeds United, a team previously helmed by his rival, Don Revie. Through flashbacks, we understand why Clough is compelled to outdo Don Revie, even if it means going against everyone, from the players to the upper management. As tensions mount and egos clash, Clough takes on the ups and downs that come with his radical coaching style. With its genuine love for football and a healthy dose of comedy in Michael Sheen’s stellar performance, ‘The Damned United’ is sure to appeal to fans of ‘The Beautiful Game.’

5. Rudy (1993)

In the directorial hands of David Anspaugh, ‘Rudy’ chronicles the inspiring tale of Rudy, a young man working in a steel mill who has a passion for American football. He attempts to enter Notre Dame to join its football team but is unable to get through because of low grades. Nevertheless, he works small jobs at the university and manages to reach tryouts. Despite his diminutive stature, Rudy doesn’t give up, even when everyone encourages him to do so. Through sheer drive and determination, Rudy will win the hearts of anyone who enjoys sports films. Rudy’s unprivileged background and struggle will be additionally compelling for those who enjoyed similar aspects of ‘The Beautiful Game.’

4. The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ tells the true story of Francis Ouimet, a young amateur golfer who defied the odds to compete in the 1913 US Open. Directed by Bill Paxton, the film transports us to a time when golf was an elitist sport dominated by the wealthy. Despite facing discrimination and skepticism due to his working-class background, Ouimet’s talent catches the attention of Harry Vardon, a legendary British golfer.

Ouimet must overcome personal challenges and societal barriers as he prepares to compete against Vardon in the prestigious tournament. Fans of ‘The Beautiful Game’ will be especially enthralled by Francis’s determination and grit as his skill closes the gap created by class boundaries. Both films share picturesque backdrops that serve to further heighten the story of their underprivileged athletes.

3. Remember the Titans (2000)

Directed by Boaz Yakin, ‘Remember the Titans’ transports us to 1971 Alexandria, where two racially segregated high schools were merged and the strong football traditions of both clashed uncontrollably. In such a charged environment, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) takes up the monumental task of making the team function as one unit, aiming for the championship. Similar to ‘The Beautiful Game,’ ‘Remember the Titans’ displays how a game can bring everyone together, even in the direst of circumstances, and give hope for a better future. Just as Vinny learns to respect and work with his teammates in the former, both races of athletes learn to work together harmoniously in the latter, forming heartwarming bonds.

2. Cool Runnings (1993)

‘Cool Runnings’ begins with a Jamaican track and field athlete having an incident in the Olympic qualifiers, causing him to be barred from participating in the running events. Regardless, he wants to enter the prestigious event through another sport. He, along with three others, form the first Jamaican Bobsled Team, enlisting the help of a disgruntled coach to train them. With only three months until the competition, the team creatively prepares for it in a country with no snow and enters the Olympics.

With Jon Turteltaub in the director’s chair, the sports film is chock-full of hysterical moments and a love for sports. ‘The Beautiful Game’ creates a sense of wonder and excitement for an underdog team heading to a foreign landscape and competing against all odds, something that is effortlessly delivered in ‘Cool Runnings.’

1. McFarland, USA (2015)

With Niki Caro at the helm, ‘McFarland, USA’ introduces us to a small farming town in California facing economic struggles. Jim White (Kevin Costner) is a high school football coach who moves to McFarland, hoping for a fresh start. However, he discovers a hidden talent among the students: running. Despite initial skepticism, White forms a cross-country team composed of Latino students who have been marginalized due to their ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Through rigorous training and unwavering determination, the team defies expectations and rises to prominence in the sport.

The movie is based on a true story and leans into the compelling narrative of a disillusioned coach tapping into the hidden potential of his underdog athletes. As the team overcomes personal obstacles and defies social norms, enthusiasts of sports films like ‘The Beautiful Game’ will be captivated by their grit and perseverance. Both films feature athletes from underprivileged backgrounds finding new opportunities and avenues of growth through their respective sports.

Read More: Is Netflix’s The Beautiful Game Based on a True Story?