The documentary about the Brentford Penguins FC, a team made up of children with Down’s syndrome, moved the audience on the closing night of Thinking Football 2023
The Thinking Football Film Festival 2023 finished in the best possible way, with the audience at the Sala BBK standing and enthusiastically applauding the Mighty Penguins. As their crest states, for Brentford Penguins FC nothing is impossible (“Nihil impossibile est”) and that is the attitude with which the team of children with Down’s syndrome, led by former professional footballer Allan Cokram, navigate their way around the world. They showed that same passionate attitude during their visit to Bilbao, where they had the opportunity to play football with Ahalegina’s team, an Athletic Club foundation project also aimed at children with Down’s syndrome.
The match was played on Lezama’s main pitch, under the old San Mamés arch. There was a festive atmosphere all around as the kids and parents enjoyed themselves. While Brentford Penguins have the charasmatic Allan Cokram, Athletic and Ahalegina have the irrepressible Igor Arenaza, helped by his colleagues. The parents in the stands were in fine voice. Every shot was celebrated as if it were the winning goal in a World Cup final. As demonstrated in both film and life, attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference.
Louis Myles, director of the film, Allan Cockram, coach and founder of the team, and Galder Reguera, director of the festival, took part in the Q&A session held after the screening. In the film, Allan Cockram explains why he wanted to establish the Penguins, saying: “While working as a taxi driver, I met two children with Down’s syndrome. Sometimes I played football with them. We had a good time. “When one of them died, I thought that football could be a good tool to improve their lives, and that’s how the club came about.” Allan thanked Athletic Club for “an unforgettable and wonderful day”. Stating this Basque leg “is the beginning of a Penguins tour, where hopefully in the end we’ll end up meeting Lionel Messi”.
Louis Myles said he was delighted to return to Bilbao with his new documentary. “I had visited Thinking Football before with my film ‘Kaiser’ and I knew that the Athletic Club Foundation was also working with a team of children with Down’s syndrome. “This coming together of the two clubs shows all the values they share: community, love, humanity, joy and making dreams come true.”
Nearly all the players and parents from Brentford Penguins and a good representation from Athletic Club Genuine and Ahalegina came to the screening at Sala BBK, where they were joined by Jose Angel Iribar and club directors Josetxu Urrutia, Laura Ruiz de Azúa, Ana Díez, Egoitz Begoña, Goizalde Santamarina and Jon Ruigómez.
The perfect finale to a great week of football and cinema.