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NEWS > Alumnae News > Inspirational Football Documentary Scores

Inspirational Football Documentary Scores

A new film about a forgotten chapter of women’s football, made by writer and director Rachel Ramsay, Class of 2005, packs a powerful emotional punch and has been hailed as a huge critical success.

Copa 71 was released to coincide with International Women’s Day in March and is Rachel’s co-directorial debut, alongside James Erskine. Tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams are Executive Producers.

The filmmakers use archival footage, unseen for 50 years, and new interviews to tell the story of the unofficial 1971 Women’s World Cup, a moment virtually erased from the history of soccer, despite being witnessed by record crowds.

Rachel Ramsay, whose sisters Laura and Grace also attended LEH, said: “Travelling around the world the last few years to meet and work with all the incredible women of Copa 71 has been an absolute riot! I couldn’t be more proud of this film.” 

She has produced several sports-based films with director James Erskine including Le Mans 3DSachin: A Billion Dreams, and The End of the Storm

Copa 71 has already been screened at some of the movie industry’s top events, including the Toronto International Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival.

The Women’s World Cup was first sanctioned by FIFA in 1991. For most lovers of the sport, that year marks the first chapter of a new era. But there is an important precursor that's gone largely forgotten.

Copa 71 uncovers a wealth of archival footage from 1971 when Mexico City held an international event billed as the Women’s World Cup. Teams came from Argentina, Denmark, England, France, Italy, and Mexico, playing a tournament to over 100,000 fans in Azteca Stadium. It was an unparalleled audience for women’s sports.

Filmmakers Rachel Ramsay and James Erskine track down the players from across Europe and Latin America. For decades, these women scarcely had a chance to tell their story. But what a story they have to tell of battles on and off the field.

In their home towns and sometimes within their own families, the women faced routine sexism and undermining of their dreams.They persevered to develop their athleticism and defy naysayers on a global stage. The women were experiencing breakthroughs not only in sports, but also in understanding power, liberation, and self-fulfillment.

See the film at a cinema near you: Copa 71 Sceening Schedule

Press coverage for Copa 71

“This is immediately one of the great football documentaries.” The Times

“A documentary poised to change how the history of women’s sport is remembered.” The Guardian

“The result is a documentary that earns its emotional high points…The stories are tinged with sadness, but they’re also beautiful and inspiring examples of the lengths people will go to in order to do something they love... Copa 71 exposes an obscured chapter in history and thrusts its heroes into a well-deserved spotlight.”  The Hollywood Reporter

“With a relentless pace and plenty of kick, Copa 71 makes it easy to get swept up in the exc“itement.” Variety

“The 'Summer of Soul' of women’s athletics… An entertaining concoction.” The Wrap

“Extremely inspirational and heartwarming… The sense of international sisterhood that permeates this World Cup is something rare and special.” Collider

“An overdue win for women athletes."  POV Magazine

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