Michael Essien endorses skate soccer documentary
Footballer Michael Essien, founder of the Michael Essien Foundation, is the latest star to put his name behind Rollaball. This documentary-in-progress tells the inspiring story of The Rolling Rockets, a team of Ghanaian polio survivors who are pioneering an extreme sport combination of skating and soccer.
Rollaball is currently crowdsourcing production funding via a 30-day campaign on Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.
“Skate soccer is one of the most inspiring forms of the beautiful game I’ve seen and shows how the sport can be adapted and enjoyed by anyone,” says Michael, the Ghana Black Stars international who recently moved to Real Madrid on loan from Chelsea. “These athletes’ determination, strength and creativity is inspiring and makes me proud to be Ghanaian. I hope the Rollaball documentary will give them the exposure they deserve and I look forward to seeing Ghana host an African Cup of Nations for skate soccer in the near future.”
Michael’s endorsement follows similar shows of support from the likes of AC Milan midfielder and Ghanaian Black Stars international Sulley Muntari; paralympian Anne Wafula Strike; World Cup Skateboarding; and Australia’s National Skateboarders Association.
“Michael’s endorsement is an inspiration for the entire team and makes us even more determined to host the first Skate Soccer Cup of Nations in Ghana next year,” says Albert K. Frimpong, coach of The Rolling Rockets and executive director of SYDOGhana (Sports and Youth Development Organisation).
Big World Cinema’s Steven Markovitz is producing the documentary, which won the Puma.Creative Catalyst Award in partnership with BRITDOC and has already been featured as a Kickstarter Staff Pick and on the curated Kickstarter pages of both Good Pitch and Okayafrica.
Steven co-founded Encounters, Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival; co-produced MTV’s Best African Movie 2010, Viva Riva!; and is producing the upcoming Jambula Tree, winner of the Arte Prize for Best Feature Film Project at Durban International Film Festival 2012. Rollaball is being directed by Eddie Edwards, who also helmed the award-winning sports documentary The Fight, about South African boxing champion Andile Tshongolo.
To help make the completed documentary possible, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rollaballmovie/rollaball-skate-soccer. Pledges start from as little as $10.
As part of his endorsement, Michael has donated five autographed 10x12inch photographs of him taken after his Champions League victory. This reward is exclusive to the first five people to pledge $600, who will also receive Batik cloth wrap from Ghana; a box set of four DVDs from Africa; special thanks on the film end credits; and a digital download of the completed film, among other perks.
The Kickstarter campaign ends on 22 September 2012. Eddie says, “If the full target of $35 000 isn’t raised, Kickstarter will not charge any of the contributors, meaning that we won’t receive any of the funding needed to complete production, so please help us spread the word. Thank you for your support; we can’t do this without you.”
“Sport is such an important part of life for everyone, keeping them healthy and bringing people together no matter what age, sex, ability or disability. Rollaball, about an inspiring team of Ghanaian polio survivors who are pioneering an extreme sport combination of skating and soccer, is a really inspirational story showing how courage and determination prevail. I always wanted to be a footballer and never let anything stand in my way, so I have the greatest admiration and respect for these guys playing sport with more barriers to success than most. This film also plays a vital role in highlighting the massive challenges that people suffering from polio face, especially in Ghana where it is still stigmatized and many have to resort to begging and living on the streets to survive. I wish the best of luck to everyone behind the film, particularly the inspiring individuals who have shared their story with the world.” Sulley Muntari, AC Milan midfielder & Ghanaian Black Stars international
“Rollaball is an inspirational film that shows that no matter how hard life may be, sport can be liberating. It’s heartbreaking to see what these men have to do to survive on a daily basis – dodging in between busy traffic to beg for money to hold body and soul together. But when Sunday comes all is forgotten in the thrill of playing skate soccer, a game that makes them feel totally alive. Their ingenuity in adapting equipment makes for a fast and furious game on the streets. It’s exciting to watch and it really deserves a far wider audience. And who knows, it could one day be a sport to inspire persons with disability all over the world, and take its place alongside wheel rugby and basketball. For it’s not where these men live but how they live that will cause us to put life into perspective.” Anne Wafula Strike, Paralympic wheelchair racer, author and polio survivor
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