Everyone deserves a chance in life to try whatever they like, be whoever they want and experience a level playing field from the very beginning. Well, that is at least the argument suggested by Bath and England rugby prop Beno Obano in his new documentary Everybody’s Game, a personal study of the endemic social inequalities that lead to a lack of ethnic minority players in the game.
With the insight of fellow professional players Anthony Watson, Ellis Genge, Biyi Alo and cousin Maro Itoje, Obano shines a light on experiences growing up in different parts of the country, explaining how, unfortunately, the constructs of society mean that the course of many children is set well before they have a choice. The hope that the four men hold onto is that over the last 20 years in particular, the demographic of Rugby Union has broadened significantly, to the benefit of both society and the English game.
The five professional rugby players exude intelligence and eloquence in their narration. Everybody’s Game is a brilliantly presented and executed documentary carrying a significant and relatable message that needs to be heard. Most amateur and certainly professional rugby players can count on one hand the number of ethnic minority background players they’ve ever played alongside – Obano’s documentary ensures that this reality is not understated, while opening the eyes of non-rugby-experienced viewers to the joy to be gained from the sport, if only the opportunity is presented. The Bath player has said he wants his first-hand documentary to “change the perception of rugby” and, in a nutshell, it will more than likely achieve that. It’s an educational and humbling body of work.
Visually, the aesthetics of the documentary’s cinematography are warm and welcoming, but never overshadow the seriousness of the focal point. Evidently a passion project, what the five sportsmen will really care about, following the film’s release on Amazon Prime, is the influence it might have in persuading greater participation and opportunities in the sport, for ethnic minorities and families struggling financially.
Obano jokes during the closing credits’ outtakes that he is an award-winning director and producer but, in reality, if Everybody’s Game is a sign of his filmmaking talent and ability, who knows what he could achieve once his illustrious playing days are over? Everybody’s Game is the documentary that rugby needs, at grassroots and professional level.
Everybody’s Game is released digitally on demand on 26th November 2020.
Watch the trailer for Everybody’s Game here: