‘Alive and Kicking’
Film review by Lawrence Knight
The power to inspire the human will to overcome adversity is on full display in the documentary film, “Alive and Kicking”. Shot in Nkowankowa Limpopo, South Africa, “Alive and Kicking” tells the story of an all granny soccer league. Mama Beka, founder of the soccer league, came up with the idea to use the sport of soccer as a way to combat health issues she was experiencing throughout her entire life. Mama Beka stated that the traditional medicine she was given was unable to cure her of her lifelong health issues, so she came up with the idea to use aerobic exercise as a way to remove all harmful chemicals from her body. Mama Beka noticed that a consistent routine of aerobic exercise relieved her of stress and allowed her the ability to sleep the entire night. Mama Beka also noticed that there were other grannies dealing with some of the same health and life issues she was experiencing, while receiving treatment at the local hospital.
So one day Mama Beka decided to take all the grannies in her village to the local play-ground to exercise, but when they arrived they found young boys already there playing soccer. One of the boys passed them the ball and Mama Beka instructed one of the grannies to run and kick it, after one failed attempt and laughter from the boys’ granny tried again and successfully kicked the ball; thus the league was born. Ma-ma Beka with the help of Coach Jack organized an aerobic based soccer program that allowed the grannies to meet twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, to maintain a heal-thy outlet for the grannies to combat stress and health issues they were experiencing in their daily lives. Coach Jack stated that once the grannies take the field to exercise they become his children and his nurturing style of coaching is evident throughout the film.
Director and producer Lara-Ann de Wet did an outstanding job telling the individual stories of each of the grannies as they deal with poverty, domestic violence and the raising of grand-children whose parents have died from HIV. The filmography is simplistic in nature, but sets a tone of realism that can’t be denied. The documentary has a perfect cinematic rhythm and beat that maintains the underlining idea that there is always hope in the face of adversity with an ending that highlights the grannies cultural triumph through song and dance. After reviewing, “Alive and Kicking” I give the film four out of four stars; be-cause triumph is always a story worth telling and I personally recommend this film to anyone with a beating heart.