Arch Rivals FC Debuts With Story of Success Academy Soccer

"Success" spotlights the unique soccer program at Success Academy in New York City

By JAKE NUTTING

Launching this week, Arch Rivals FC is committed to telling stories from every corner of the world of soccer.

The New York-based media and production company had its sights set on tackling one of the largest issues in American soccer before it zeroed in on the subject of its debut documentary, “Success.”

“Success came out of a larger project we were working on about soccer development in the U.S.,” Greg Purpura, the film’s director, said. “We interviewed a bunch of former players, journalists and coaches about the state of development. We wanted to dig into why there is a relative lack of diversity and players from lower socioeconomic status in the program.”

Purpura and Arch Rival FC’s research led them to Boris Bozic, program director of the soccer program at Success Academy, a network of 41 charter schools across New York City. Three-quarter’s of the school’s network is made up of low-income families and more than 90 percent of the students are children of color.

Just like tuition to Success Academy, the entire soccer program is free to the families who are fortunate enough to have their children gain admittance into the charter school through a lottery. With all of the network’s 14,000 students being exposed to soccer as part of their daily school routine starting in the first grade, the program could offer an innovative solution to the barrier preventing youngsters from picking up the game.

“The problem is not just that crowds of poor kids are being turned away from Development Academy doors, it’s that these kids are never kicking around a soccer ball to begin with,” Purpura said. “The lack of grassroots programs in urban areas means the door is closed to potential soccer players before they can ever get on track, albeit to a track that they might not be able to afford. It seems to us that there has been a huge opportunity missed to develop a soccer culture that reaches out to a broader and more inclusive audience.”

Purpura’s engaging documentary spends the majority of its time shining a light on Bozic and the youngsters of Success Academy’s network-wide team. The program does not allow students to compete immediately, instead allowing them a few years to learn the fundamentals before joining the school or network-wide team if they have the skills.

The documentary is only a little more than 20 minutes, yet Bozic’s passion for the project and the joy from the youngsters as they go on their first trip to a tournament is infectious. In bits and pieces, the players express their love of the sport and dedication to improving. They are rarely seen without a soccer ball at their feet as they play wherever and whenever they can find the space in the city, school or home.

Arch Rivals FC’s first round of projects, which includes a photo essay on the Brooklyn Italians, has been largely self-financed. The company is seeking broadcast and brand partners as it looks to expand its scope to every level of the sport.

“We definitely want to collaborate. We want to partner with awesome filmmakers, photographers, audio journalists and storytellers around the world. You’ll see on the site we have a photo essay with photographer Stephen Yang, who is an extremely talented guy who shoots for the New York Times, Getty, and Reuters. And we’ll have more collaborations with other photographers coming soon as well.”

You can watch Success in full below and follow Arch Rival FC on Twitter @ArchRivalsFC.


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