The heartwarming documentary, Little Azkals: Pursuit of a World Cup Dream will have its TV premiere on April 12, Sunday, at 10:30 p.m. (after Gandang Gabi Vice) on ABS-CBN.
Little Azkals is a film directed by Baby Ruth Villarama (Jazz in Love) that documents the experiences of 22 young Filipino footballers (from the ages of 10-11) who were selected out of more than a thousand boys for an elite training in the United Kingdom’s Loughborough University, one of the foremost British institutions in sports education. Their training was made possible through the support of The British Council, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), Pru Life UK Philippines and Voyage Films.
Throughout the three weeks, the boys had to deal with homesickness, the cold England weather, competing with more seasoned players and other challenges that were too great for their small shoulders. The special trip to the UK is part of the country’s long-term development plan to create a formidable national team to compete in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019 and the 2024 Olympics.
When Little Azkals had a limited weekend-run last year in selected SM cinemas, the film received good reviews. Reviewer Oggs Cruz said, “[It] sums up all the joys and frustrations of the beloved sport it painstakingly paints with such bright and cheerful colors.”
Dodo Dayao, director of the Cinema One Originals 2014 Best Picture Violator, said that the docu is “charming and funny and, at points, exuberant. Little Azkals is a small film with a big heart.’”
Reviewer Philbert Dy wrote in ClickTheCity, “Little Azkals is really a sweet film that finds its heart in surprising places,” while Jennifer Dugena of PEP.ph described it as “an intimate experience that makes it seem that the boys are our own family members…”
The film’s creative team is composed of a topnotch veteran filmmakers that includes Albert Almendralejo, Clodualdo del Mundo and Chuck Gutierrez as producers; Dexter dela Pena, Dindo Fortuno and Baby Ruth Villarama as cinematographers; Von de Guzman as musical scorer; and Mike Idioma as sound engineer. The documentary also features Azkals National Team players Phil Younghusband and Rob Gier and former Azkals team captain Chieffy Caligdong.