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Air Bud: World Pup Keeps Fans at High hopes for new soccer generation

By: Connie Cao

In 1999, the U.S. Women’s national team clinched their second World Cup Title in a thrilling match against China. The iconic images of this victory capture Brandi Chastain celebrating in a sports bra, Brianna Scurry in her goalkeeper shirt, Mia Hamm, and a golden retriever by their side.

Following the U.S. team's triumphant year, a new comedy film emerged titled Air Bud: World Pup. This cinematic creation revolves around a remarkably talented dog that showcases prowess in various sports, prominently soccer. However, in Air Bud: World Pup, the depiction of the 1999 World Cup diverges from reality. Instead of a match against China, the U.S. women’s team competes against New Zealand. Intriguingly, the film portrays a unique twist where the U.S. team's goalkeeper is injured after saving a penalty, and Air Bud, the gifted dog, steps in. The heart-warming story culminates with the adorable golden retriever securing victory for the World Cup team by saving the final penalty shot.

Upon the U.S. Women's team's request for Air Bud: World Pup, all players eagerly embraced the idea. Even though Brandi Chastain wasn't a professional actor, she fondly recalls the experience as joyous. Chastain saw this as an opportunity to shed light on women's soccer while enjoying the company of the lovable golden retrievers featured in the film (there were six in total).

“I’m a sucker for dogs anyway,” Chastain chuckled, revealing her fondness for canines. She also admitted to being a fan of Air Bud even before the offer was presented. “But I thought that women’s soccer being a part of something like that is reaching out to more of the population that maybe wouldn’t have access or wouldn’t particularly come to women’s soccer.”

The film boasted an ensemble of six dogs, with the computer-generated character Buddy taking center stage. Brianna Scurry shared that training the dogs initially presented challenges due to their differing temperaments. Some exhibited more enthusiasm for play, while others were more reserved. Nevertheless, with time, the training process smoothed out, and this became a non-issue.

Air Bud: World Pup managed to captivate the excitement of fans and children alike. Its impact is evident as more attention is directed towards women's soccer, and anticipation for future films grows.

“These kids would know the players that have now taken the reins from us, who were in the crowd watching us play in 1999, but they wouldn't have known the history of the '99ers or where that came from,” Scurry commented. “That movie did a lot for the legacy of the '99ers for the younger generation.”

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