Released on Netflix in late 2022, the documentary series Captains of Zaatari follows the uplifting journey of two best friends, Fawzi and Mahmoud, living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Through their passion for soccer and mentorship from coach Fadi Al-Jazzar, these charismatic young captains unite their fellow refugee teammates to form a vibrant community team.
Touched by Tragedy but Filled with Hope
Both Fawzi and Mahmoud were forced to flee from the Syrian civil war to the refugee camp at early ages, leaving behind stable homes and families. The series gives a snapshot into their difficult pasts and history of displacement, creating an empathetic lens for viewers into the human impact of war.
Yet their positive attitudes and humor shine through any bitterness over their situation. Alongside over 79,000 other displaced Syrians in the miles-wide camp, they are determined to create meaningful lives with dignity. Soccer becomes the vehicle for maintaining normalcy, health, and dreams of eventually returning victoriously to their homeland.
The Beautiful Game Bringing People Together
At the heart of Captains of Zaatari is the transformative and healing power of sports. Through dusty practices and matches in the camp, soccer becomes far more than just a game. Coach Fadi designs sophisticated plays and formations to teach principles of teamwork, communication, and responsibility that the players can translate off the field.
The budding friendships between teammates of different backgrounds and even rival refugee squads showcase how the shared love of soccer can break down barriers. This is all preparation for when Fawzi, Mahmoud and team captain the Zaatari All Stars in Jordan’s national tournament against non-refugee teams for the first time, pursuing respect through excellence in play.
An Uplifting Story Revealing Refugees’ Humanity
While covering profoundly weighty themes of displacement and childhood adversity, Captains of Zaatari refreshingly avoids tropes of refugee victimization. Instead, it artfully spotlights vibrant, talented individuals yearning to prove their self-worth.
Viewers gain insight into real people just like them who crack jokes, dance enthusiastically and express romantic interest – their refugee status does not solely define them. The series gives a platform to Mahmoud and Fawzi’s sarcastic, infectiously joyful personalities that endear them as underdogs to root for.
Cementing its place as 2022’s standout serial documentary, Captains of Zaatari is a five episode must-watch fusing sports action with deeper lessons on leadership, community and the human condition. Al-Jazzar summarizes it best: “Refugees can do anything if you let them chase their dreams.” By depicting their subjects as inspirational heroes on an aspirational journey, the filmmakers accomplish the exceptional – turning a story of exile into one of hope.
Credit: by IMDB