“We should make an And1-style show for soccer called Street Soccer.” These are the things you say when you work in a department named ESPN Content Development, as Kevin Wildes and I did in the mid-2000s. A lot of ideas like Street Soccer were thrown around the office during that period and, as you can imagine, 99.9 percent of them were never pursued in earnest. Street Soccer was an exception.
Months after that declaration, Kevin and I made a “business trip” to Amsterdam in search of talent to film a Street Soccer pilot. What we learned while abroad was that legendary Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids had assembled a squad of the best street soccer players in the country named the Street Legends. After a return trip to Amsterdam (again, for business), Kevin and I made a deal to bring the Street Legends to New York for a weekend to take on the city’s finest soccer players and put their abilities on display.
That weekend was perfect. The normally brisk September weather welcomed them with an unusually sunny and summery three-day stretch, and the Street Legends couldn’t have been happier to gawk at the Manhattan skyline the same way passersby gawked at their soccer skills. Throughout the shoot we captured the personality, complexity, and competitiveness of both the Street Legends and the sport they play, and distilled them down into this four-part short film.
For reasons too bureaucratic and boring to detail here, the Street Soccer project never evolved beyond that one magical weekend in New York City. But it just so happens that we now have a YouTube channel on which we can green-light anything we damn well please. So enjoy 25 minutes of soccer as you have never seen it, only on Grantland Channel.