Editor’s Note: This is the introduction to Amazon’s new docuseries This Is Football as well as the first in an episode-by-episode review.
The first episode of a new docuseries offers a fascinating look at the impact soccer* has had in Rwanda, particularly over the last three decades.
*Football, for the rest of this piece.
Amazon’s This Is Football – Episode 1 Review
In ’94, Rwanda was rocked by a mass-scale genocide. An estimated total of 1 million people of the minority Tutsis were killed by the majority Hutus in a brutal clash between the ethnic groups.
“This is Football,” available on Amazon, looks at the role the beautiful game played in the country’s healing process. The hour-long piece is a must-watch for not only football fans in general and particularly Liverpool fans, but anyone who downplays the importance of sports.
“This is Football” is the latest soccer docuseries to be released on a streaming platform like Netflix or Prime Video. But if the first episode, “Redemption,” is anything to go by, it’s a far cry from anything viewers could expect to see in behind-the-scenes shows like “Hard Knocks” or “All or Nothing.”
That’s no knock on either of those – I enjoy the access to the sideline banter we wouldn’t otherwise hear as much as the next person. The story of what happened in Rwanda, though, is far more compelling than any pregame speech or highlight, for several reasons.
A powerful story
For one, it tells a story that is probably unfamiliar to most viewers, which is a huge asset at a time when so many of the same topics in this sport are covered incessantly.
The way the information is presented heightens the intrigue. First, we are introduced to a group of Liverpool fans known as the Rwanda Reds, who eat, sleep and breathe Liverpool football. Then, we learn the gut-wrenching story of what happened to vast numbers of Tutsis.
By the show’s final 20 minutes or so, chills, if not tears, are inevitable. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the episode’s “final act” might be the most powerful thing any Liverpool fan watches this year. And yes, I am aware of what happened at Anfield in Leg 2 of the Champions League semis against Barcelona.
It’s not just the subject matter that blew me away, though. It immediately becomes obvious that no expense was spared in the production and shooting of this piece. We’re treated to stunning aerial footage that shows off Rwanda’s natural beauty throughout the episode. Each installment of this series covers a completely different theme and subject, but based on “Redemption,” they’ll all be gorgeous looks at football.
The other five episodes in “This is Football” are titled “Belief,” “Chance,” “Pride,” “Love” and “Wonder.”
“Belief” covers the growth in the women’s game. “Chance” looks at a couple examples of luck’s outsized role in football. “Pride” looks at the sport’s standing in Iceland. “Love” shows the myriad versions of the game worldwide and “Wonder” offers a look at Lionel Messi.