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14 Players, 11 Countries.

The halls of Sullivan High School are decorated with dozens of national flags, reflecting the diversity of both the student body and the local community, and Sullivan’s soccer team is no exception. Through their shared dedication and the encouragement from coach Migurt Barburi, an Albanian immigrant and former player for the team, Sullivan has become the only urban school to compete in Illinois’ premiere soccer division, taking home the regional title in 2016.

Soccer may be their shared passion, but this story transcends the sport. All of the players come from countries that have been labeled as conflict zones, ruled by tyrants, and riddled with poverty and inequality. They’ve been victims of conflicts out of their control, wars they cannot escape, and struggles they did not deserve. But soccer has always been there for them. It allows them to escape the wars of their past and gives them a war they can win, a war on the soccer field.

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9 Films


What drew me to the story of Sullivan High’s soccer team was the raw humanity and relatability the team exuded. I saw a team rich with grueling life experience, but I also saw a group of people filled with unbounded hope, brotherly encouragement, and a strong desire to build a better life for themselves and their families.

This story serves as proof that a diverse group of people can not only coexist in peace but can actually embolden one another to be better people as well. It was incredible to see all of the players working to overcome language barriers and individualized struggles through a mutual love for the game. This might be a documentary about soccer, but it is more than a sports story, it’s a tribute to America and its unique ability to create a melting pot of fresh starts. This film could have been about ballet, medicine, or archaeology; these are simply the mediums that help us remember that we’re not so different after all.


  • Anthony Pellino Director

  • Thibaut Estellon Executive Producer

  • Ahad Mahmood Director of Photography

  • Jason Koontz Director of Photography

  • Scott Wietrzykowski Sound

  • Carlos Espinoza Editor



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