You may not have heard of Punjab United, you won’t have seen them on Super Sunday, you probably can’t name any of their players.
Punjab United are a non-league outfit playing in the Southern Counties East Football League, around eight divisions below the Premier League.
But they have lofty ambitions, and a number of recent promotions to get into the Southern Counties East League, have done nothing to dampen them.
But their arrival into the League hasn’t been as plain sailing as they’d hoped and, come the end of the season, they find themselves doing all they can to fight for their survival.
Owned by local Sikh businessman Chipie, who is also their manager, the team is comprised of players of all faiths and some players are even paid.
Regularly in the documentary, we’re told that this is a world away from the cash-rich Premier League. That visitor numbers are in the tens, not tens of thousands.
Still, this young side do have their own ground, with a clubhouse, floodlights, home and away kits and it’s more than just Chipie on the backroom staff, you do wonder how much he’s put in himself to get this far.
Chipie seems a likeable chap, his passion for the game is evident, as it is amongst all the players – none are doing this for a laugh – and he takes it hard when the team lose. It means work on a Monday can be quiet and awkward for the rest of his colleagues.
There are tales of players having been at Premier League teams, only to find themselves let go at a young age. Now older and wiser, they are determined to prove people wrong, with mixed results.
As the team continue their losing streak, tensions inevitably rise in the dressing room and Chipie takes the blame himself in a website article, despite those around him saying he’s being too hard on himself.
And then, it all comes down to the final game of the season, win or bust for Punjab United, nothing else will do but those vital three points. Can they manage it, can they stay up?
The documentary is delightfully directed by Samuel (surname not provided but you can find him on twitter: @SamS_UK) who, together with his team, captures just enough of the football highlights to keep fans keen, whilst allowing those who wish to watch for, say the business side of things, plenty to see too.
The documentary touches a little on what the team means for the wider community but doesn’t get too involved in this, which is a shame. Equally it only lightly touches on the fact the team have an under-7’s, an academy if you will, which again has you questioning the money comments that run throughout.
However, Punjab United – Our Lives is a very good documentary, filled with passion and enthusiasm for “the beautiful game”, a game which, at this level at least, has been unsullied by the pound signs of the size we see in the top leagues around the world.
Punjab United – Our Lives can be seen on BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday, June 17th.
13th June 2019