Goal of a Lifetime The world's lowliest national teams are winners in the inspiring documentary The Other Final

June 09, 2003
June 09, 2003

Table of Contents
June 9, 2003

Track And Field

Goal of a Lifetime The world's lowliest national teams are winners in the inspiring documentary The Other Final

Two years ago Lars Gustafsson, a member of Sweden's parliament,
nominated soccer for the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the sport's
capacity to create "understanding between people." Most of the
world laughed, but maybe Gustafsson wasn't completely nuts. In
fact, after watching The Other Final, a brilliant 54-minute
documentary about a soccer match between the national teams at
the bottom of the FIFA rankings, it's hard to disagree with him.

This is an article from the June 9, 2003 issue

Matthijs de Jongh and Johan Kramer, executives of the Dutch
advertising agency KesselsKramer who conceived the idea for the
match while sulking over Holland's failure to qualify for the
2002 World Cup, were elated to find that Bhutan and Montserrat,
places with virtually nothing in common, were the teams ranked
Nos. 202 and 203, respectively. Bhutan, as its people remind
viewers throughout the film, is a cheerful Buddhist kingdom in
the Himalayas that measures prosperity not in gross national
product but in "gross national happiness." Montserrat is a mostly
Christian island in the Caribbean still reeling from a volcanic
eruption in 1997 that forced two thirds of its inhabitants to

"Tiny, unknown nations on opposite sides of the planet were
perfect to prove that competition can go hand in hand with
compassion," says de Jongh, who with Kramer helped raise the
$400,000 to make the film and bring the teams together in the
Bhutanese capital of Thimphu.

Even before the match, which falls on the same day as the World
Cup final between Brazil and Germany in Japan, there is plenty of
drama. On the eve of his team's departure for Bhutan, the
Montserrat coach quits in a dispute with the national football
association over his lack of input into player selection. The
Bhutanese team must overcome even greater adversity when, a month
before the match, its coach dies shortly after undergoing an
operation for prostate cancer.

It is match day itself, however, that offers the richest moments
in the film, which has yet to be bought but has won awards at
film festivals in Bermuda, New York City and Toronto. You'll get
goose bumps watching the teams enter Changlimithang Stadium with
20,000 fans cheering and the players marching side by side, each
clasping hands with a Bhutanese child. At the end of the match a
silver trophy, which has been cut down the middle, is split
between the teams' captains, each of whom hoists his half of the
chalice in the air. Gustafsson especially would appreciate the
film's final scene: A Montserrat player rips off his jersey and
reveals a white T-shirt with the handwritten words WE LOVE

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: KESSELSKRAMER HEAVENLY When Bhutan played host to Montserrat, it was more than agame.