Last year Rhys Chapman wrote, directed and produced a short film that we at Outsports somehow missed. Wonderkid chronicles several days in the life of a young gay professional soccer player who has just gotten moved up to the Premier League and explores various dimensions an athlete — gay, bi or straight — contends with on a daily basis, including fans, teammates and the media.
The lead character is multidimensional, layered with issues of class and sexual orientation while trying to figure out exactly whom he can trust.
“We’ve created an authentic and emotional portrayal of a fictional gay footballer at the top of the game,” Chapman said, “to shine a light on this subject and hopefully create a great deal of compassion towards any gay footballers.”
One of the most powerful messages of the film is the relationship between athlete and agent. Over the course of the piece we understand that the athlete is bursting at the seems to come out and live his life truthfully; It’s his agent, who makes his money by winning contracts for his athlete, who continually pushes him to keep quiet.
What’s ironic is that the first publicly out gay professional soccer player in England will make even more money in endorsement deals, as will his agent. Yet various rumblings we’ve heard over the years have placed much responsibility for the dearth of out athletes at the feet of agents who want to suck every athlete they represent of every drop of blood they can and lack the foresight to see the changing times and potential financial boon for any of the “first” gay pro athletes in their respective sports.
The film has gotten a lot of support — from organizations as big as Sky Sports — because of its raw storytelling and genuine insight into the mindset of a gay pro athlete. The film is far from cookie-cutter and will leave you thinking well after the last frame.
Recently Chapman was in Russia showcasing the film with the Russian LGBT Sport Federation.
Definitely take a look, it’s worth your while.