By: Eleanor Liang
The movie “Air Bud: World Pup” features the furry franchise hero coming to “Scurry's rescue and takes over in goal after Scurry injures her shoulder saving a penalty” as Norway, as the New York Times says. It has become quite a popular movie.
Except, of course, that they replaced China’s team with Norway’s.
“Yes! Victory!” The girl yelps at the dog, jumping up and down and hugging her dog at the victorious sight of the furry dog saving the penalty. “Nice job, Air Bud!” She gives her dog a high-five.
When the USWNT beat China in the 1999 World Cup finals on a penalty kick, everyone cheered. This victorious feat was utterly significant to their win, and we still remember the triumphant moment: Brandi Chastain celebrating after kicking the winning goal; twirling her jersey with a proud smile. Briana Scurry in her all-navy goalkeeper’s uniform, all serious, an-all-innocent-face Mia Hamm and (???)… a golden retriever? Wait…can dogs even compete in the World Cup?
In 1999, the United States women’s national team won its second World Cup title and ushered in a new era of women’s soccer, as The New York Times had said.
USWNT has been a consistent and steady force on the field, but the 1999 World Cup was a total outburst.
The tournament was played on home soil in the US (at the Rose Bowl), the team was skillful and brilliant, and the games were staged at major arenas and widely broadcast, as the New York Times had cast a similar remark.
In the finals, the USWNT scored a winning goal against China.
The heroic kick was well honored and inspired Air Bud, a series of movies featuring a talented dog playing sports who changed its American football talent to a soccer talent. Air Bud saved a children’s soccer team and scored the winning goal. “Air Bud did as Air Bud does,” comments the New York Times.
“When the women won the World Cup, they were such a force,” explains Robert Vince, an executive producer of the Air Bud franchise. “They didn’t just win it, they dominated it. They became an obvious choice for us. We also felt that there was a real opportunity to elevate the game for girls as well. It was just such a moment.”
The final six minutes of the movie couldn’t be more different than the rest. It was repainting the portrait of the 1999 World Cup win. Only this time, they face Norway. Also, they have Air Bud, who bothers to rescue the team, replacing Brianna Scurry,who, in the movie, injured her shoulder saving the kick. “Air Bud saves the day, keeping Norway at bay,” comments a viewer after watching the save.
The movie literally “thrust” the players onto the movie stage and even earned Chastian the nickname of “Hollywood.”
“She said in a recent interview that she and her teammates were flooded with requests for commercials and other collaborations,” the New York Times reported. “But then she, Scurry and fellow ‘99er’ Tisha Venturini were invited to Vancouver to film a movie about a dog saving soccer.
Air Bud playing a game for the Timberwolves before playing in the World Cup
“I’m a sucker for dogs anyway,” Chastain said, noting that she was a fan of Air Bud before the offer came in. “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.”
Chastain remarked, “Recreating a World Cup-like environment was no small feat.”
According to the New York Times, she and her teammates weren’t actors but had to tap into their feelings at the Rose Bowl in 1999 and “re-enact something that was so genuine and so in the moment.”
“They filmed their six-minute sequence over three eight-hour days,” Scurry said, “and most of the crowd was C.G.I. Buddy, the star, of course wasn’t.”
Scurry revealed, later, “There are like six dogs.”
Scurry explained “Each Buddy had different skills: some were calmer; some were better at jumping in the air and heading the ball; and some just wouldn’t be in the mood.”
But Scurry emphasized that she had long treated Air Bud like Santa Claus: “I never tell kids about the six Buddies,” she said solemnly.
Fans have raised this question on social media for a long time. After being told about it, Scurry burst out laughing. “I was not aware of this conspiracy. That never crossed my mind.”
Wait…why is Air Bud acting in the Women’s World Cup anyways: isn’t he a male? How did Buddy compete for the women’s national team?
“Good question,” Chastain said,laughing. “Gosh, I don’t know.”
Vince, however, has a diplomatic and serious answer: “I don’t think it was a gender-specific thing, I think it was just that he was a dog,” Vince replied. “Little kids don’t really think of their pet or their dog as a gender.”
For Scurry and her teammates “Air Bud: World Pup” is a way for her to usher in an entire new generation of fans who didn’t see the 1999 World Cup. She said children still ask for her autograph — as the goalkeeper from “Air Bud.”
“These kids would know the players that have now taken the reins from us, that 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 said. “That movie did a lot for the legacy of the 99ers for the younger generation.”
Overall, Air Bud’s soccer movie has played a significant role in women's soccer.
Count me in when there is a new movie about a bunny playing soccer!