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The Beautiful Game

pelada silhouette soccer players together

Puedo jugar contigo?

It was just a simple phrase meaning “can I play with you?” in Spanish, then translated into different languages, that allowed American soccer players Luke Boughen and Gwendolyn Oxenham into cultures vastly different than theirs, for one reason: the desire to play soccer.

Boughen and Oxenham (now married to Boughen) traveled the world in filming their movie, “Pelada”, in search of pickup games and the people who play them. The film took them from a prison in Bolivia, to a closed-off secret game with Oxenham and Iranian women dressed in full religious garb, to a tournament of moonshine brewers in the slums of Kenya. The film allowed these two former collegiate soccer players to answer the question of:

What does a well-to-do suburban soccer player, who attended a prestigious American private college, who had a chance to play professionally and was pursuing a law degree, have in common with a moonshine brewer from the slums of Africa?

The love for the game of soccer.

In the critically-acclaimed documentary “Pelada”, Boughen and Oxenham show us that even though the Bolivian prisoners play in a heavily guarded jail, and Israelis and Palestinians play in the dark on opposite sides of a tennis court, the object is still the same: put the ball in the other team’s goal. With the Chinese freestylers, it was the shared idea that the soccer ball, not their former high-paying banking jobs, was the key to happiness.

Puedo jugar contigo? Kan ek met jou speel? Kann ich mit dir spielen? Posso brincar com voce? Though four different languages, the translation is still the same: Can I play with you? Five simple words (in English) that can open an American soccer player into the world of a soccer player a world over, who shares that love for the “beautiful game”.

Everyone has a passion. Why not find someone—who might be 3,000 miles away in a completely different life situation—who shares that same passion?

“Pelada” proved that with five words, and one ball, it was possible to step inside and share radically different cultures. We at OurPangea hope to allow others to create their own “Pelada,” and promote their shared passions through cross-cultural connections.

You have a “beautiful game,” now share it.

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