Legendary footballer shares his passion for football, keen interest in film and his take on work ethics at special screening of ‘Save Our Squad with David Beckham’ presented by the Doha Film Institute
The exclusive event was held for the Ajyal jurors and included a panel discussion moderated by youth advocate Moza Al Hajiri with Beckham and filmmakers A.J.Al-Thani and Mo’men Ghanim
Doha, Qatar; December 21, 2022: The Doha Film Institute (DFI) organised a special screening of the factual entertainment series Save our Squad starring global sporting icon David Beckham for the jurors of the Ajyal Film Festival, in the presence of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of DFI and other distinguished guests.
Co-produced by Studio 99 and Twenty Twenty for Disney+, the inspirational series follows Beckham as he returns to his roots in East London to mentor a struggling under 14’s football team playing in the same league that Beckham himself played in as a boy. The screening was followed by a panel discussion that brought out the side of the legendary footballer that showed a man defined by his roots and committed to giving back to the community and to the game that he is so passionate about.
Doha Film Institute CEO, Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, commented, “It was an honour to collaborate with David Beckham and Studio 99 on this very special and inspiring screening for our Ajyal family. The Institute encourages diverse perspectives and believes in the transformative power of storytelling and of young voices. We are grateful to partner with likeminded individuals and organisations who share our vision of providing opportunities for the active and meaningful participation of youth in their communities. Together, we will reinforce important connections that empower young people to transcend challenges to build a brighter future.”
Addressing the young audience in Doha, Beckham said ‘Save Our Squad with David Beckham’, a show that brought him back to where his football career started – East London – was a “personal project for him.”
“It enabled me to work with people where I grew up and give back to the game that has given me so much. It was important for me to go back to East London and when I heard about the Westward Boys (an under 14 grassroots side from East London), I immediately wanted to be a part of it. It wasn’t easy for the boys, but I got to know them the way I never would and that was very special for me.”
The documentary, streaming on Disney+, portrays Beckham’s experience mentoring the Westward Boys. From heroics to heartbreak and failure to redemption, the experiences that Westward Boys, their coaches and their families go through over the course of the season strikes an emotional chord, as Beckham intended. “I hope people are inspired by what they see and all the people I spoke to who watched the series laughed and cried and were inspired by it.”
Beckham said the take-away message is that “it is not about being the best footballer but about being humble and hardworking,” he said. Putting work ethic over talent, Beckham said that “talent only takes you so far, but hard work takes you further and working as a team takes you even further.”
‘Save Our Squad with David Beckham’ is co-produced by Beckham’s production company Studio 99, and the beginning of several exciting upcoming projects. “I am proud to say that we are filming some scenes here in Doha for a project about the history of Adidas and Puma. It is a very interesting story, which has never been told in the way that we are doing so now. We have shot in different locations around the world for it and it’s great to be able to shoot some scenes here, whilst Qatar hosts the world’s biggest tournament. We are working with great people and continue to be inspired by talented young people who are passionate about what they do.”
He said he was always passionate about films and Studio 99 was co-founded with people who have been his long-time friends, saying: “I am excited about the stories we can create together through the Studio.”
Beckham said his favourite part of making the series was “working with the boys and meeting their families. They literally opened their homes for me, and we spoke not just about their football aspirations but about their lives – their schooling, feelings in life and what they want to achieve.”
Addressing the panel with David Beckham, Qatari filmmaker A.J Al-Thani said one of her biggest inspirations was football and David Beckham. “I chose a career of dreams and as a filmmaker I am in the industry of pursing and chasing my dreams. My playing field was the desert, and my biggest inspiration is to showcase our culture and the beauty of our country and nature in our stories. Hosting the World Cup in Qatar is a great legacy for the region, anchoring a newfound respect for Arab people and their aspirations, values and traditions.”
Qatar-based Palestinian filmmaker Mo’men said films play a vital role in promoting cultural exchange. “We live in a time of fake news, and we should focus on authenticity and develop films based on research. The more we go in depth and the more we learn, the better the films become.” He said hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Doha has further enabled people to connect across geographic boundaries over the love for football.
David Beckham goes to his roots in Disney-branded series Save Our Squad. Co-produced by BAFTA and RTS Award-winning production company Twenty Twenty, and Studio 99, the global content and production studio co-founded by Beckham, Save Our Squad is a heart-warming series that sees Beckham return to the East London football pitches where he played as a child. Here he will mentor a young grassroots side who are struggling to survive in the league. Beckham and his team take these players, their coach, and their community on an uplifting journey of a lifetime. Save our Squad is executive produced by Sean Doyle for Disney.