Interview w/ Gwendolyn Oxenham of Pelada
November 08, 2010
Pelada is a new soccer/football documentary that follows former Duke standout Gwendolyn Oxenham and former Notre Dame legend/midfielder Luke Boughen as they join pick-up games in twenty-five different countries. In the process, they joined in on some wild games, including matches with moonshiners in Kenya and the prisoners of a Bolivian jail.
One of the film's main players, Gwendolyn Oxenham, recently took the time to respond to a few questions.
I understand if you choose to abstain from answering due to the serious nature of the question, but which country had the most zealous football fans?
Haha--I guess I'd have to go with the expected response: Brazil. And it's not just fandom--they all play. Eighty-year-olds, eight-year-olds, females.
Does the game of soccer necessarily reflect the political tensions or cultural attitudes of the country?
We played in a game in Israel between Arabs and Jews one day after a terrorist attack. While we were having the was-it-or-was-it-not a goal fight in every country, the argument in Jerusalem felt like they were also arguing about the years and years of history between them.
And yes, to an extent, you can see the stereotypes: Germans were the most efficient passers and Brazilians were the most skillful. But surfaces also influenced style--in Kenya, for example, we played on what used to be a garbage dump so the dirt and dust made passing and dribbling all but impossible, so athleticism became the defining quality of play.
How often did the U.S. get called out about using the term soccer?
Originally, we referred to our trip as "The Soccer Project," but had to throw out the term because of all the cries against the word. Surprisingly, out on the road, no one seemed to comment on soccer. Every country has a different word for pickup so it seemed like just another linguistic difference.
What was the most interesting item you saw used as a ball?
The kids in a village in Ghana used a machete and plastic bags to make their own, then sewing up a sock over the inflated center. It took hours and hours to make and we had to stop them before they got to full size because our cameras were running out of juice and we had no way to charge them in the rural village.
South Independence Branch