A new film inspired by the work of a pioneering Scottish charity is to launch globally on Netflix in March.

The Beautiful Game stars Bill Nighy as the manager of England’s homeless football team, who takes his players to Italy with the hope of being crowned champions of the Homeless World Cup, a global street soccer tournament.

At the last minute he decides to bring with them a talented striker Vinny (Micheal Ward), who could give them a real chance at winning, but only if he’s ready to let go of his past and become part of the team.  

The film is one of second chances - where homeless teams from around the world find that all roads lead to Rome, and everything’s to play for. 

It has been made with the support of The Homeless World Cup foundation, an Edinburgh-based charity established in 2001 with a mission to use football to support and inspire people who are homeless to change their own lives; and to change perceptions and attitudes towards people who are experiencing homelessness.

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The charity works with a network of Street Football Partners across 70 countries that are using football to tackle homelessness and social isolation in their community. 

The network provides a focus for - and a celebration of - the charity's year-round activity with the Homeless World Cup, a landmark annual week-long international street football tournament for more than 500 men and women who have all faced homelessness and social marginalisation.

The first Homeless World Cup took place in Graz, Austria in 2003. Host cities since then have included Gothenburg, Edinburgh, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Oslo and Melbourne. The 2024 Homeless World Cup will take place in Seoul, South Korea. 

Filming for The Beautiful Game began in 2021 and has been produced by a team including In Bruges and The Batman star Colin Farrell, a long-time supporter of the Homeless World Cup. Farrell narrated the 2008 documentary Kicking It, which follows six players as they set off for Cape Town to play in the Homeless World Cup.

As well as Bill Nighy, the film stars Susan Wokoma, Callum Scott Howells, Kit Young, Sheyi Cole, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Robin Nazari, Aoi Okuyama, Cristina Rodlo, Tadashi Watanabe, Kazuhiro Muroyama and Valeria Golino.

The Herald: Bill Nighy during filming of The Beautiful Game in Rome. Bill Nighy during filming of The Beautiful Game in Rome. (Image: Netflix)

BluePrint Pictures, who produced the film, met with many former players before filming, with their real-life stories inspiring some of the characters in the movie. 

Filming in Rome also included Homeless World Cup teams and players from the Homeless World Cup’s global network of member countries, who played alongside the actors in specially-designed Homeless World Cup inspired pitches in Rome. 

Speaking about the film, Homeless World Cup President and Founder, Mel Young, said: “We are incredibly honoured to be the focus of the upcoming film The Beautiful Game and thrilled to know that the whole world can watch the film on Netflix from Friday 29th March.

"The Beautiful Game is about succeeding against the odds and that is exactly what the Homeless World Cup tournament is all about. The film shows the hope, sporting drama and the joy of this real-life tournament and the huge potential of people left behind by society.  

“We have impacted the lives of over 1.2 million homeless people since 2003. The Homeless World Cup is our contribution to tackling the homeless problem across the globe but there is so much more to do. We have proved just how powerful football can be when it is applied to a social problem and we will keep striving to do more.  We hope that the work we do being told in The Beautiful Game inspires more people to join in and support future Homeless World Cups and together we can all aim to end homelessness forever.” 

The Beautiful Game launches globally on Netflix on March 29, 2024.