MEN IN THE ARENA
MITA CREDITS

The unforgettable story
of two Somali National Football Team friends
chasing their dreams in the face of impossible odds.

 

It’s a survival story, a human rights story, and a rare sports journey principally shot and produced in Kenya, Somalia, and the United States. For three years, we have worked to capture the Somali story through the eyes of footballing friends bound by a shared dream to inspire their countrymen. What happens to them is nothing short of miraculous. Our hope is that this film will begin to illuminate the power the dreamers have to inspire a generation.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again..."

― Theodore Roosevelt

SAADIQ

NOW
Saadiq played for FC Dallas Academy in Frisco, Texas during the 2014-2015 season. He’s the first member of his family to attend university and expects to begin NCAA Division I play at St. Louis University in 2016.

THEN
Saadiq was first called up to the Somali National Team in 2012 after three months with Somalia's Banadir Sports Club and the U-17 Somali National Team. He returned to Kenya in December 2012 and played with Kenya's AFC Leopard's the following summer. Saadiq was born in Nakuru, Kenya in 1996 - his mother left Mogadishu in 1993.

SAAD

NOW
Sa’ad played for Elman FC until 2015, he twice earned top scorer in the league and won the Super Cup Championship in 2013. Sa’ad entered the US Refugee Resettlement program in 2015 and entered the US on March 21, 2016 where he hopes to pursue a professional career.

THEN
An Elman FC club official discovered Sa’ad when the team traveled to his village for a friendly match in 2010. He was called up to the Somali National Team prior to the first round of regional World Cup qualifying in 2011. Sa'ad was born in April 1993, less than six months before the Battle of Mogadishu.

J.R. BIERSMITH

DIRECTOR, PRODUCER

Men In The Arena is J.R. Biersmith's first feature length film. He has been a content creator across platforms for over 10 years. He began his broadcast journalism career at The Miami Herald. He graduated with a B.A. in International Business from Bradley University and a M.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Miami (Coral Gables).

 

BRIAN BELLINKOFF

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, EDITOR

Brian is the EVP of production at Media Meld Studios, a production and management company based in NY and LA. His love for documentary film-making started at the University of Miami where he met J.R. Brian has helped produce two previous feature documentaries, one narrative horror feature, and is currently an executive-producer on the reality show "LogHeads."

GARY LIONELLI

Gary Lionelli composed a dynamic original score for Men In The Arena on the heels of his masterful work on the 2015 Academy Award nominated film, "Last Days in Vietnam. He’s scored multiple HBO films and won Emmy awards for "The Ghosts of Flatbush" and "Ted Williams.”

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PRESS

STL On Air (NPR), Don Marsh

May 17, 2016

'This city is really special:' Film tracks somali soccer stars... 

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STL Post-Dispatch, Kristen Taketa

Apr 24, 2016

Sunday Cover Story: For Somali soccer stars, life in America is a new game

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Riverfront Times, Sarah Fenske

March 29, 2016

The two best players on the Somali national socer team now live in St. Louis

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Sports Illustrated, Joan Niesen

March 28, 2016

Salvation in soccer: Dream-seeking Somali refugees reunited in the U.S.

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BBC Sportshour, Steve Crossman

Jan. 2, 2015

Imagine living in a place where the FA Cup was banned

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BBC Outlook, Sue Waldman

Nov. 26, 2014

The Somali Football Team may be 203 of 208, but it’s still every boys dream to...

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"If people come together, they can even mend the crack in the sky"

- Somali Proverb