But the excitement from the win didn’t fully translate in the United States once the hoopla died down. In 2000 the Women’s United Soccer Association was formed as an attempt to grow the women’s game professionally stateside and essentially function as a talent pool for future national team players. In Bend It Like Beckham Jules shares that her dream is to play in the WUSA, which served as a home for international players whose countries did not have elite programming for women like Mexico, the U.K., and France, and she encourages Jess to pursue the same path. But the WUSA had its final season in 2003, due to insufficient investment and low ticket sales, the same year Bend It Like Beckham was released in the States. Jules’s and Jess’s potential future in American professional soccer was extensively thought out in a timeline that was written by writer Stephanie Yang, imagining a sequel super fans need.

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Bend It Like Beckham brought the beauty of women’s soccer to a broader, often apathetic audience in the aftermath of a groundbreaking women’s World Cup win. The movie included the most popular English soccer player to put his boots on the pitch, David Beckham. But in creating the character of Jess as a young female Beckham-esque prodigy, Chadha echoed what the 99ers team were saying with their World Cup win: that women players are just as good, just as entertaining, as the men. “There was this unspoken — not a burden, just the weight or the gravity of the future of women’s soccer,” Chastain said of the cup win in 2019. “And the future of soccer for girls. There was a little bit in the back of your head how important it was to win, not just for us but really as kind of the flag-bearers for women’s sports.” These days the women’s national team is now on its fourth world cup and the National Women’s Soccer League saw record TV ratings during their condensed 2020 season.

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Bend It gave women’s soccer a boost of pop culture relevance that is still felt to this day. Writer, podcast host and sports activist Shireen Ahmed recently talked about the importance of Bend It in an episode of the podcast Football Collective. “This film is 20 years old but it’s still so relevant now,” Ahmed said looking back at how the film showed women being treated as “second-tier footballers” or “an afterthought.” For any film to be a great sports film it must have staying power, beyond ample training montages and a great comeback game, and Bend It Like Beckham has all of that in spades and more. In depicting a young soccer prodigy whose identity was so embedded in the sport as well as in her own culture, Bend It Like Beckham spotlit an important era for women’s soccer, making the sport accessible and desirable to young girls the world over.