‘Air Bud: World Pup’ Rises in Popularity
By: Annabelle Ma
When the United States women’s national team won the world cup for the second time in 1999, a new era began in women’s soccer. 40 million people were watching as the United States beat China in a penalty shootout at the Rose Bowl, landing them the World Cup title. The pictures of them celebrating include something unusual: a golden retriever.
After their historic win, the Air Bud film franchise- which features an athletically gifted dog who saves various sports teams- started to focus on soccer. Previously, Air Bud had helped save a children’s soccer team by scoring a winning goal.
The last six minutes of a film called Air Bud: World Pup features a recreation of the 1999 World Cup game, with all the original athletes on the American team. Except this time, they faced Norway instead of China. And, they have Air Bud, who saves a penalty kick after Briana Scurry injures herself on the court.
“I’m a sucker for dogs anyway,” Brandi Chastain, a player on the 1999 women’s soccer team, said, recalling that she was a fan of Air Bud before the offer came in. “But I thought that women’s soccer being part of something like that is reaching out to more of the population that maybe wouldn’t have access to women’s soccer.”
Because she and her teammates weren’t actors, they had to go back in time to their feelings during the Rose Bowl in 1999 and “re-enact something that was so genuine and so in the moment.”
For Scurry, the movie was a way for her to introduce herself to a new generation of fans. She said that children sometimes ask her for her autograph as the goalkeeper from “Air Bud.”
“These kids would know the player that have now taken the reins frum us, but they wouldn’t have known the history of the 99ers or where that came from,” Scurry said. “That movie did a lot for the legacy of the 99ers for the younger generation.”