Private Project

O-LYM-PIC Football Dreams

What does it take to play for your country? That’s the dream of course.
It is 2022, the FIFA World Cup™ is due to commence in November, and the Australian Socceroos have finally managed to qualify after an epic struggle. Do our young players also have challenges on the world stage? Can a group of Aussie football players from Sydney Olympic FC take on the best in Europe?

When filmmaker Janet Merewether set out to film an ambitious group of 10-year-old underdogs from Sydney Olympic FC on a whirlwind tour, competing against junior football teams from the powerhouses of the Bundesliga and top European clubs such as Manchester United, Ajax and Benfica at the prestigious Legia Cup, little did she expect that she would also be documenting the involvement of (now former) Club President Bill Papas, who is making headlines worldwide for allegedly defrauding Westpac Bank for hundreds of millions of dollars. Who knew? Certainly not the parents.

Essential viewing for all aspiring football players and sports fans, featuring insights from leading coaches such as Schalke’s Sam Farokhi, Hertha Berlin’s Florian Kliche, Manchester United’s Eamon Mulvey, former Socceroo captain Alex Tobin OAM, former Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Perth Glory player Nick Rizzo, ‘O-LYM-PIC Football Dreams’ is a story of professional pathways, youth football and the multicultural history of ‘the world game’ in Australia. The film features exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from top Bundesliga clubs, and international competitions which were shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic.

How can football be fairer and more affordable, and what can we learn from the expert coaches in Europe to raise the quality and accessibility of the game worldwide? What are the positive pathways for women in the World Game?

A story about determination, ambition, and integrity in elite sport, but
above all, this is a film about the dream of young athletes to represent their country and to play the game they love.

© 2023 Screen Culture / Janet Merewether

  • Janet Merewether
    Jabe Babe - A Heightened Life, Maverick Mother, Reindeer in my Saami Heart
  • Janet Merewether
    Jabe Babe - A Heightened Life, Maverick Mother, Reindeer in my Saami Heart
  • Janet Merewether
    Jabe Babe - A Heightened Life, Maverick Mother, Reindeer in my Saami Heart
  • Sydney Olympic FC U11 team
    Key Cast
    "Sydney Olympic FC team"
  • Nick Rizzo
    Key Cast
  • Alex Tobin
    Key Cast
  • Florian Kliche
    Key Cast
  • Sam Farokhi
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Sport, Youth, History, Culture
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 25 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 17, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    335,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, Germany, Poland
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Paladino D'Oro Sport Film Festival
    November 13, 2022
    International Premiere
    Special Prize
  • Theatrical cinema release - Randwick Ritz
    October 24, 2022
    World Premiere
  • Theatrical cinema release - Classic Cinema
    October 29, 2022
    Melbourne Premiere
Distribution Information
  • Go Girl Productions
    Country: Australia
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Janet Merewether

Dr Janet Merewether is an award-winning Australian documentary filmmaker, designer, media artist and academic. Her films produced by Go Girl Productions and Screen Culture include ‘Jabe Babe – A Heightened Life’ and ‘Maverick Mother,’ which have won numerous prizes including TIDF, ATOM, IF and AFI awards. Her films have screened at the New York Film Festival, MoMA New Directors/ New Films and numerous international festivals including Sheffield Doc/Fest, INPUT, Dok Leipzig TIDF and Tampere Finland. She completed her doctoral degree at UTS Sydney in 2008 on the subject of innovative hybrid documentary. Janet’s first feature documentary, ‘Reindeer in my Saami Heart’ has been nominated for two ATOM Awards for Best Documentary – Biography, and Best Indigenous Resource, as well as being nominated for Best Documentary Script at the AWG AWGIE Awards 2016. ‘Reindeer in my Saami Heart’ was selected for its international premiere at the influential Margaret Mead Film Festival New York in October 2016, had a national theatrical season at Palace cinemas, and has now been selected as a text for the NSW HSC English curriculum. Her most recent production is ‘O-LYM-PIC – Football Dreams’.

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Director Statement

This dynamic documentary charts the highs and lows of an ambitious and talented group of football players from Sydney Olympic FC as they go on tour to Germany, competing against Under 11 teams from the well-resourced giants of the Bundesliga and Europe’s top football clubs at Poland’s prestigious Legia Cup. The boys travel with their parents, and (former) club president Bill Papas, whose son is in the team, meets the group from time to time, travelling independently and glowing with pride as he mixes with the elites of European football.

The boys from Sydney play a series of warm-up matches against German giants Hannover 96, Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04, RB Leipzig and Hertha Berlin, before valiantly competing against youth teams from Legia, Benfica, Ajax, Sparta Prague at the high-profile Legia Cup in Warsaw, where talented teams from Juventus, Manchester United and Anderlecht also participate. They struggle against such quality opposition, suffering many losses over the two week tour.

A true David and Goliath story, the documentary examines the challenges faced by Australia’s national teams on the world stage, and the high price-tag (up to $2500 per year) of participation in the round-ball game at an elite level in Australia. The documentary compares the Australian ‘pay to play’ system with merit-based German development programs which do not discriminate based on a family’s wealth, and where coaches describe themselves as ‘educators’ with a high level of training, accreditation and expertise.

Featuring valuable insights and interviews with some of Australia, Germany and the UK’s leading youth coaches and former players, O-LYM-PIC – Football Dreams features children who undoubtedly will become the European football stars of the future.

The documentary reflects on the multicultural development of the ‘World Game’ in Australia, the dreams of aspiring players and their professional development, and the positive future for Women’s football in this country, particularly with the upcoming Women’s World Cup in 2023.

However, the documentary also focuses on the barriers to participation and success, and the potential for corruption in a sport where ‘making it’ professionally can lead to highly lucrative financial contracts. In 2021, the Federal Court of Australia found that Bill Papas, (former) Sydney Olympic Club President, had allegedly defrauded Westpac Bank by hundreds of millions of dollars through forged loan applications. Who knew? The club? The sports governing bodies? Certainly not the parents. What background checks are made by Football NSW and Football Australia with regards to club owners and office-bearers?

O-LYM-PIC – Football Dreams is compelling viewing for young and old players and fans with an interest in the history of football and sporting culture in Australia and worldwide.
© 2022 Screen Culture / Janet Merewether