Homophobia is an issue that plagues athletes at all levels, in every sport, around the world.
Wonderkid, 2016 film that premiered at the Raindance Film Festival, tackles this issue head on. It takes a personal look into homophobia as it pertains to the 'Wonderkid,' a young prospect who plays for both the prestigious Premier League club "West London" and the English national team. The film opens with the "Wonderkid" nervously awaiting game time for what seems to be his first Premier Leauge match. He is visibly nervous and only gains the confidence to leave the locker room after a pep-talk from his close friend and manager. The atmosphere in the stadium is hostile, and there is an immediate acknowledgment of homophobic chants coming from all around him. But, in fairytale fashion, the “Wondered” perseveres and takes the field unfazed; within minutes, he scores the goal to prove his worth. Without hesitation he turns to the crowd, picks out a belligerent fan, and responds to all of the criticism. From here, the film moves off the pitch, and the viewer is taken on an intimate journey of how it feels to have to hide your true self, even as a universally recognized footballer. We get a 'behind the scenes' view of the effects of societal homophobia on a closeted young man. Both on the street and on the field, the ‘Wonderkid' is forced to overcompensate for himself as to not give any naysayer fuel to criticize. But all while, he is dreaming of the day when he will be out and his talent, as one of England's hottest new footballers, will be able to speak for itself. Wonderkid is a high production film that looks to tackle an extremely difficult and less spoken about topic in sports, visually appealing readers where everything else might be harder to digest. Adidas as a brand is also very prominent in the film, which we praise as it seems another prominent company joins the ranks to fight the epidemic that is discrimination in the world's game; similarly, the film was broadcast on Sky Sports 1 and featured Sky Sports' Sky Sports' Martin Tyler, Alan Smith and Geoff Shreeves. Hopefully this is just the start of a larger conversation around an important issue, with more filmmakers and journalists and high-profile brands and athletes shedding light on it. You can watch Wonderkid here.