ESPN Films to premier ‘The 99ers’ on Aug. 20 as part of Nine for IX series
CHICAGO – As part of a series titled Nine for IX, ESPN Films will premier “The 99ers” on Aug. 20, taking fans back to the summer of 1999 when the U.S. Women’s National Team captured the hearts and minds of a nation on the way to a dramatic Women’s World Cup championship.
The U.S. WNT changed the landscape of women’s sports on a global level on July 10, 1999. In front of a sold-out crowd of 90,185 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., still the largest crowd to watch a women’s sporting event, the U.S. Women’s National Team reached a cultural and athletic pinnacle with its penalty-kick shootout victory against China to win the Women’s World Cup. Even more amazing, an estimated 40 million Americans watched on television with millions more tuning in from around the world.
As told through the voice of a longtime team leader, Julie Foudy, fans will get an inside look at the strong team ethic and “do for each other” mentality that propelled the squad to victory.
With unprecedented access, “The 99ers” uses candid, behind-the-scenes footage shot by the players themselves during the three-week tournament to present a unique portrait of the women who irrevocably changed the face of women’s athletics. The film reunites key players from the 1999 squad and also talks with current U.S. players to examine how women’s soccer, and women’s sports as a whole, has evolved since that epic day at the Rose Bowl.
Foudy, who spent 17 years on the National Team while earning 272 caps and scoring 45 goals, is the producer for the film. The mother of a young daughter and son is a two-time World Cup champion and three-time Olympic medalist, which includes gold medals in 1996 and 2004. In 2007, she was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, alongside Mia Hamm.
“A friend recently asked me how I would describe the experience of the 1999 World Cup to my young kids and, without hesitation, the first thing that came to mind was: Best. Job. Ever,” said Foudy. “Yes, almost two decades of playing for my country alongside an amazing group of women who taught me the value of competing, growing and digging deeper than I thought possible counts me among the lucky. But, more important, this group of women showed me that challenges, obstacles and adversity are really just thrilling, laughter-infused adventures that are part of the wonderful journey.”
The film is directed by Erin Leyden, a producer with ESPN Films since 2008. She has produced more than a dozen documentaries for the award-winning “30 for 30” series, working with filmmakers, including Barry Levinson (“The Band That Wouldn’t Die”), Steve Nash (“Into the Wind”) and Jalen Rose (“The Fab Five”).
Before joining the Films group, she worked at ESPN producing features, specials and documentaries, including “Ali’s Dozen,” “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” “ESPN The Magazine at 10,” and “Her Story.”