Bend it Like Beckham

Bend it Like Beckham,

Story: No one plays soccer like Beckham, and a young woman shouldn’t play soccer at all—at least, not according to two traditional moms in this British comedy. Our past and heritage certainly affect our future, so how can we honor our parents and still reach for our dreams in this multicultural modern world? In this story, Jess loves football (soccer) and she is good at it, but her mother thinks that “good Indian girls” don’t run around playing sports, showing bare legs, etc. To complicate matters, Jess’ dad was the victim of prejudiced treatment (RE the sport of cricket), making it hard to trust “white” athletes. Meanwhile, local Brit Jules has problems of her own, with a mother who thinks she should be more feminine. Add interracial romance, nosy friends, misunderstandings, and an Indian wedding, and the result is a fun movie that can open your eyes to the complications your neighbors might be facing every day. Let the footballs fly! (2002; Keira Knightley, Parminder Nagra; Kintop Pictures; sports, comedy, drama, inter-cultural. romance; PG-13; 112 min)

Setting: London mostly (one soccer game is in Germany)

People and proper nouns:

  • Jesminder (Jess) Bhamra: a 19-year-old young woman in an Indian family, living in Britain; Jess is the center of our story
  • Mr. & Mrs Bhamra: Jess’ parents; her father is an airline pilot; her mother thinks Jess should be interested in how to cook traditional Indian food and how to find an Indian husband, not in playing sports
  • Juliette (Jules) Paxton: a young woman (also 19) who “discovers” Jess, and invites her to play on an amateur football team
  • Alan and Paula Paxton: Jules’ parents; her dad likes having an athletic daughter, but her mum thinks Jules should have grown out of this un-feminine passion
  • Joe: the coach of the women’s team, originally from Ireland (and since Irish people in England have suffered from a lot of prejudice, he can understand some of what Jess is going through)
  • Jerries: (slang) Germans
  • Paki: Pakistani (to an Indian, this is an insult, like calling a Chinese person a “Jap”)
  • Pinky: Jess’ sister, who’s upcoming marriage add flavor and confusion to the plot
  • Putar: son/daughter; my child [from Hindi (national language of India) and Punjabi (language spoken in Punjab state of India)]
  • Tony: a young Indian man who has been a good friend to Jess for a long time
  • Yanks: (BrE slang) Americans


(underlined words are vocabulary terms; *key terms)
  • *amateur: not professional; someone who does sth (like a sport or job) for fun, not for money
  • *aspirations=hopes; strong desire(s) to have or achieve something
  • to be busted by/for: originally to be “caught doing something wrong” like a criminal, but also used metaphorically for “being seen to do sth that someone doesn’t want you to do” [Note: to “bust” a body-part means to injure it]
  • to bend (a ball): to kick a soccer ball in such a way that it curves, such as curving around other players in order to score
  • bitch: literally a female dog, but some women (especially minorities?) use this to refer each other, in a semi-insulting way—but “bitch” is a terrible insult if a man uses it to talk about a woman
  • bloody: (BrE) a British swear word, considered profane by some, but (like most BrE and AmE swear words) isn’t considered to be as offensive now as it was a generation ago. [According to several websites, British people say Americans sound silly when they try to use “bloody” as a swear word–you can imagine how other non-native English speakers sound when they use cuss words!]
  • bollucks/bullocks: (BrE) a highly flexible British term that can mean “really great” or “really terrible/unfair”
  • *cancellation: refers to an opening because someone else cancelled their reservation (at a restaurant, wedding hall, etc.) “We can have the wedding in two weeks because there’s been a cancelation; after that you’ll have to wait five months.”
  • *compromise: an agreement in which everyone involved accepts less than what they wanted at first, in order to promote peace or ongoing relationships
  • to fancy (someone/something): to feel strongly, such as to feel romantically attracted to someone, or to “really feel like eating” a particular kind of food, or “not fancy” (“not feel like”) doing sth
  • *gonna: oral English, meaning “going to” (you should never write the word “gonna” because it is not really a word)
  • gora/gori: gora is a word used by Indians to refer to white people in general; gori describe white girls; they are not particularly offensive terms and are used quite a lot in this film
  • *heritage: something inherited at birth, such as traditional customs, personal characteristics, status in society, core values, and/or possessions
  • kit: a set of sports clothes, such as shorts and a top for runners or soccer players (“We’ll pick up your kit on the way to the game.”)
  • *predicament: an unpleasant situation in which you have to make a difficult choice
  • *prejudiced=bigoted: having strong negative feelings toward everyone of a different race, religion, political viewpoint, etc., esp. when such prejudice keeps you from listening to anyone with these differences
  • sarong: a traditional SE Asian garment for women, made of a long piece of cloth, worn wrapped around the body (you see Jess putting one of these on during the film)
  • *scout: a talent scout; someone who looks for talented athletes, often representing teams or universities who offer scholarships or contracts based on the scout’s recommendation
  • to shag: to have sex with (BrE, and LDOCE says it isn’t polite)
  • *turban: a tight head-covering worn by some men in parts of Africa and Asia
  • *wanna: oral English, meaning “want to” (you should never write the word “wanna” because it is not really a word)


  • to eat dirt: to suffer humiliation (“My fiancee’s parents came to eat dirt and apologize for breaking up the wedding.”)
  • innit: (BrE slang) “Isn’t that right?”
  • *long face”: a facial expression that makes you look unhappy or disappointed. “I let her go to the football match because I could no longer bear her long face.”
  • *(we could do with some) new blood: we need new members (often said as part of an invitation, or describing a need for new staff/players/etc)
  • *to be off limits: refers to something you are not allowed to have or a place you are not allowed to go. “You kissed Joe even though you knew he was off limits–he isn’t allowed to date his players.”
  • *to be on sb’s case/to be on sb’s back: to persistently nag or criticize sb (such as a parent or coach, always correcting someone’s behavior)
  • to be over the moon about sth: to be very happy about it
  • to pack it in: to stop doing sth, like at the end of a workday [to send sb packing is to tell them to leave and not come back]
  • *to poke fun at: to make sth look funny in a light-hearted way
  • *to rub it in: to say or do something that emphasizes (often in a mean way) an embarrassing or painful fact. “I’m already upset about this problem; you don’t have to rub it in!”

More information:

(to help you understand what you will see)

Another summary: A comedy about bending the rules to reach your goal, Bend It Like Beckham explores the world of women’s football, from kick-abouts in the park to free-kicks in the Final. Set in Hounslow, West London and Hamburg, the film follows two 18 year olds with their hearts set on a future in professional soccer. Heart-stopping talent doesn’t seem to be enough when your parents want you to hang up your football boots, find a nice boyfriend and learn to cook the perfect chapatti. [Written by Anonymous, at]


  1. The introduction says, “Our past and heritage certainly affect our future.” Explain this and give specific examples, first from the film (Joe, Mr. Bhamra, Jules, Jess…) and then from “real life.”
  2. The opening clip shows Jess’ dream, and her mother’s reaction to it. Talk about your own dreams. If your family supports your aspirations, how do you show your appreciation? If they don’t, where else can you turn to find support, and how do you show thanks to those people?
  3. Pinky said that if you have to lie to your parents, you should at least do it for something worthwhile. What did she think was worthwhile, and how did Jess define worthwhile? What is “big enough” to lie to your parents about?
  4. It is said that true love leads a person to give up his/her rights, in order to be primarily concerned for the well being of another person. Do you agree? Explain. Talk about each person’s “rights” in a family, and how they change over time. (If you are still young, try to be objective! You will probably have children someday too!)
  5. Talk about the relationship Joe (or any coach/teacher) has with his players. It is common to have rules that forbid a coach or teacher from having an intimate relationship with a player or student. Are such rules good or bad? Explain.
  6. Mark Twain said: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Explain this. Talk about a situation (in your past, or in a film, etc), in which it turned out that parents were “right” and their child had made poor choices.
  7. In this film, Indian and British writers, directors and actors poke fun at some of the strange things about their own culture. Examples include the time everyone at the party thought it was his/her phone ringing, and the opening “news show” in which Mrs. Bhamra’s views are clearly portrayed as funny. With your partner, think of other examples. Then choose a few things about your own culture that a movie writer might “poke fun at.”
  8. A big part of this film is about the clash of cultural values, both from generation to generation and in a multicultural environment. When Jess’ friends say that Indian marriage rules are unbearable, Jess says “It’s just culture, right?” By the end of this film, Jess’ parents seem to allow their daughter more freedom than at the beginning, but what does a young person do if parents are not as willing to “bend”? Try to answer from the perspective of both a parent and of a child.
  9. As in the film Fiddler on the Roof, deeply held religious beliefs are often a major reason why some parents have trouble changing. You saw some of that in Bend it too. If God has said that people should or should not do something (e.g., cover certain parts of the body in public, not eat pork, not have sex with someone of the same gender or under a certain age, etc.), is it right for someone to break those rules? Why or why not?
  10. Religious beliefs hold cultures together, as well as keeping different cultures apart. What happens when the conflicting values of different religions must exist side by side in a culture (like modern England)? How can someone know which values to embrace and which to reject? If three people hold conflicting views (based on their religion, or choice to reject all religions), how do we determine which view is best, or is “the truth”? Does “truth” matter? If you say “no it doesn’t”, then what happens if you are wrong?
  11. Trust is a priceless thing, so lying is normally considered “wrong”—but people think they MUST lie many times in this story. So, is lying wrong? Who decides if something is wrong? With a small group, list the major things that the world’s biggest religions agree are wrong. Should people pay special regard to those things? Why or why not?
  12. Jess said that it wasn’t fair to be put in a place where she either had to let the team down or disappoint her family. What advice would you have given her? How could she have avoided this predicament, and/or how could she get out of it? Can you come up with a compromise?
  13. At the end of the film, Jules and Jess are heading to America, just after Jess kisses her former coach Joe. With a partner or small group, create a role play showing some of these characters when they visit England a year later, during the summer break.

Sentences/dialogs from the movie:

(also see; blue indicates a key dialog or sentence)

Say these dialogs out loud with your friends; it will help you prepare to watch the movie. The underlined words are defined in the vocabulary section above.

  • 1.  Announcer 1: Could Jess Bhamra be the answer to England’s prayers?
  •       Announcer 2: There’s no denying the talent. Quick thinking, comfortable on the ball, vision and awareness – absolutely magnificent. I tell you what, I wish she was playing for Scotland….
  •       Announcer 1: We are joined in the studio now by Jess’ mother, Mrs. Bhamra. You must be very proud of your daughter.
  •       Mrs. Bhamra: Not at all! She shouldn’t be running around with all those men, showing her bare legs to 70,000 people! She’s bringing shame on the family. And you three shouldn’t encourage her! Jesminder, you get back home now!
  •       (We see that Jess has been day-dreaming; her mother comes into her room while she is watching Beckham on TV.)
  •       Mrs. Bhamra: Jesminder, are you listening to me? Your sister’s getting engaged and you’re sitting here watching this skinhead boy!
  •       Jess: Mum, it’s Beckham’s corner! [to herself] I’m sick of this wedding, and it hasn’t even started.
  • 2. Woman at Pinky’s Engagement Party (to Jess about marriage): It will be your turn soon. Now do you want a clean-shaven boy like your sister, or a proper Sikh with full beard and turban? It’s only our men that have a big engine and full MOT, eh?
  •       (MOT refers to a British test to be sure cars are in good condition; clearly the woman was using it metaphorically, but I couldn’t find any suitable explanation on line!)
  • 3. (Jules watches Jess play football with some guys in a park, and then comes up to introduce herself.)
  •       Jules: That was brilliant! Do you play for any side? …I play for the Hounslow Harriers Girls side. It’s closed season at the moment, but we’ve got a tournament coming up. You should come and have a trial.
  •       Jess: A trial? You think I’m good enough?
  •       Jules: Yeah. I’ve seen you a couple of times. You’ve gotten really good. Of course, it’s up to our coach, but I know we could do with some new blood.
  •       (Jess’ friend Tony says “That’s brilliant” but the other guys make fun of the idea of a girls’ team.)
  • 4. (Jess meets the coach, Joe, for the first time. At first, he is reluctant, wondering if she is “serious.”)
  •       Joe: Where do you normally play?
  •       Jess: In the park.
  •       Joe: I mean what position?
  •       Jess: Sorry! I usually play all over, but up front on the right is best.
  •       Joe: Get your [football] boots on.
  •       Jess: I haven’t got any.
  •       (After seeing her practice, he changes his mind.)
  •       Joe: I’ve never seen an Indian girl into football.
  •       Jess: I didn’t even know they had a girl’s team here.
  •       Joe: It’s all her fault [i.e., Jules]. I used to play for the men’s club, and she used to hang around here whining that there was no team for her to play on.
  •       Jules: I wasn’t whining… When he busted his knee, he set up a girls’ side. And he’s been on my case ever since…. [to Jess, after Joe leaves] How long have you been playing?
  •       Jess: For ages, but only in the park. Nothing serious like this.
  •       Jules: This? Serious? It will do for now. I want to play professionally.
  •       Jess: Wow! Can you do that? Like as a job?
  •       Jules: Sure. Not really here, but you can in America. They’ve got a pro league with new stadiums and everything.
  • 5. (Just after Jess speculates that Jules is really lucky to have supportive parents, we meet Jules’ folks. Jules and her dad are kicking a ball around their garden, and it hits one of the potted flowers.)
  •       Paula (Mom) Paxton: Oh, will you both pack it in! Look at the state of my fuchsias! Alan, when are you going to realize you have a daughter, with breasts, not a son! No boy’s gonna want to go out with a girl who’s got bigger muscles than him.
  •       Alan (Dad) Paxton: Why don’t you just leave her alone?
  •       Jules: I’m not gonna give it up?
  •       Paula: I’m just saying, I saw Kevin with a girl the other day, and it didn’t look like they were talking about “match of the bleedin’ day.”
  •       Jules: Kevin can shag whoever he bloody wants!
  •       Paula: Honey, all I’m saying is, there’s a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a fella! [Jules runs off, angry]
  •       Alan: Why don’t you get off her flamin’ back? If she’d rather play football right now than chase boys, then quite frankly I’m over the moon about that.
  • 6. (Jess is telling the coach why she never wears shorts; she has a large burn scar on her thigh.)
  •       Joe (with intentional exaggeration): Jesus. That’s a stunner. I thought I had a bad one on my knee but yours is gorgeous. Look, don’t worry about it. No one’s gonna care once you’re out there…. [He shows Jess his scarred knee.] Two operations later, and it is still useless. Does yours affect your game?
  •       Jess: No, it just looks awful. I was eight. My mum was working overtime at Heathrow. And I was trying to cook beans-on-toast. And I jumped up to the grill to get the toast. And my trousers caught alight so my sister put me in the bath, poured cold water over me and pulled them off. And half my skin came off too.
  •       Joe: Sorry.
  •       Jess: I know – it put me off beans-on-toast for life. [They both laugh.]
  •       (Later we learn that Joe’s injury came because his dad/coach pushed him too hard. After an injury, he didn’t want his dad to think he was “soft” so Joe kept playing—which he now knows was stupid.)
  • 7. (Jess’ mother sees her playing football in the park with boys who are “touching her all over.” The father says that now because her sister is getting married, Jess has to act different. During the conversation, Jess says she isn’t playing football with boys anymore, which makes her parents happy, but then adds that she is joining a girls’ team!)
  •       Mrs. Bhamra: I don’t want you running around half naked in front of men. Look how dark you’ve become, playing in the sun!
  •       Jess: But mom, I’m really good!
  •       Mrs. Bhamra: What family would want a daughter-in-law who can kick a football all day but can’t make round chapatis? Now that exams are over, I want you to learn [how to make a] full Punjabi dinner, meat and vegetarian! [She then talks about a cousin who became a fashion designer, married “a boy with blue hair” and got divorced three years later.] I don’t want the shame on my family. That’s it. No more football!
  •       Mr. Bhamra (sympathetically to his daughter): Jessie, your mother is right. It’s not nice. You must start behaving like a proper woman. OK?
  • 8. (Jess—coached by Tony and Jules—decides to lie to her parents, saying she has a summer job when she is really going out to play football. But she doesn’t see why she has to lie about sports, saying it isn’t like she is sneaking out to see a boy…. But eventually, of course, her parents find out the truth.)
  • 9. (Jess is explaining “love matches” to her teammates.)
  •       Jess: My sister’s getting married soon. It’s a love match.
  •       Player: What’s that mean?
  •       Jess: It’s not arranged.
  •       Player: So if you can choose, does that mean you can marry a white boy?
  •       Jess: White? No. Black? Definitely not. A Muslim? eh-eh!
  •       Jules: I guess you’ll be marrying an Indian then.
  •       Player: Sorry. I don’t know how you Indians put up with it.
  •       Jess: It’s just culture, isn’t it? It’s better than sleeping around with boys you don’t ever plan to marry. What’s the point in that?
  •       Player: That’s the best bit!
  • 10. (Pinky and Jess are being fitted for Saris to wear at the wedding. Jess doesn’t want hers too tight, especially around the bust. But her mom wants the men to “notice” her.)
  •       Dressmaker (Re: Jesminder’s breasts): Don’t worry, Miss Bhamra. Our designs will make even these little mosquito bites look like juicy, juicy mangos!
  • 11. (After Jess meets Jules’ mother, they are at a bus stop laughing about it hysterically; the parents of Pinky’s fiancé see them, and think Jules is a boy…)
  •       Indian father (to the Bhamras): We’re not trying to cause trouble. We just felt that it was our duty to tell you….
  •       Mr. Bhamra: You know how hard it is for our children over here. Sometimes they misjudge and start behaving like the kids here.
  •       Indian mother: All I know, is that children are a map of their parents.
  •       Pinky (after the other family leaves, very angry with her sister): [You] Stupid flippin’ cow!
  •       Mrs. Bhamra: You’ve ruined your sister’s life! Happy now?
  •       Pinky: My whole wedding’s been called off because of you!
  •       Jess: Me? Why?
  •       Mrs. Bhamra: They saw you, being “filthy” with an English boy.
  •       Jess: They’re lying. I wasn’t with any English boy.
  •       Pinky: They saw you today, at a bus stop, kissing him! Stupid bitch, why can’t you do it in secret like everyone else?
  •       Jess: Kissing? Me? A boy? You’re mad. You’re all bloody mad.
  •       Mr. Bhamra: Jesminder, don’t use those swearing words!
  •       Jess: I was at the 120 bus stop today, but with Juliet. My friend. She’s a girl, and we weren’t kissing or anything for God’s sake!
  •       Mr. Bhamra: Do you swear by Babaji?
  •       Jess (without hesitation): I swear on Babaji’s name.
  •       Mrs. Bhamra: Sometimes these English girls have such short hair…. You just can’t tell [when it’s a girl].
  •       (Still angry, Pinky tells their parents that Jess has been lying, and playing football. The mother “prays” to Babaji, asking why she got two deceiving daughters—and telling Pinky that yes she knew she was sneaking off with that good-for-nothing boyfriend, whose parents had now called off the wedding.)
  • 12. (When Joe finds out that Jess’ parents didn’t know she was playing football, he goes to talk to them. He apologizes, saying he didn’t know she hadn’t told them about the team, and says that he believes Jess has tremendous potential as a footballer.)
  •       Mr. Bhamra: Young man, When I was a teenager in Nairobi, I was the best [cricket] fast bowler in our school. Our team even won the East African Cup. But when I came to this country, nothing. I was not allowed to play in any team, and these bloody goras in their clubhouses made fun of my turban and sent me off packing.
  •       Joe: I’m sorry Mr. Bhamra. But now…
  •       Mr. Bhamra: Now what? None of our boys are in any of the football leagues. You think they will let our girls [play]? I don’t want you to build up Jesminder’s hopes. She will only end up disappointed like me.
  •       (Joe walks out to his car, talking to Jess about an upcoming match in Germany.)
  •       Joe: I can see what you’re up against, but your parents don’t always know what’s best for you, Jess.
  •       (Pinky “covers” for her sister, and Jess goes with the team to Germany; her dad sees something about it in the newspaper, and finds out she has lied again.)
  • 13. Jess: I’m sorry I missed that penalty, coach.
  •       Joe: It’s okay, losing to the Jerries on penalties comes natural to you English. You’re part of a tradition now!
  • 14. (After the game in Germany, they go to a bar. Jess isn’t used to alcohol, and gets a bit drunk. Talking to Joe, her feelings come out. She is amazed that he stood up to her mom.)
  •       Joe: Your mum’s a barrel of laughs compared to my dad.
  •       (As Jess leans forward to kiss Joe, Jules walks in.)
  •       Jules (angry): You bitch!

(When they get back to England, Jess’ parents are waiting for her. When showing this film in class, this is a good place to stop on the first day. About 50 minutes in with 55 left.)

  • 15.  (Mrs. Bhamra is depressed, talking to her husband in Jessie’s bedroom, surrounded by all the things they bought for her, while their daughters are cooking traditional Indian food downstairs.)
  •      Mrs. Bhamra: What haven’t we done for these girls? We bought a car for Pinky. Jessie wanted computer, music center, TV, video, huh?
  • 16. (Jess asks her sister if she thinks their parents would still talk to her if she “brought home a gora”—i.e., started to date someone who isn’t Indian; at first Pinky is strongly against this…)
  •      Pinky: Jess, you can marry anyone you want. It’s fine at first when you’re in love and all that. But do you really want to be the one everyone stares at at every family do because you married the English bloke?
  •      Jess: He’s Irish.
  •      Pinky: Well, they look the bloody same to them, innit? Why go to so much grief when there’s so many good-looking Indian boys to marry? It’s not like before, you know? Now they wear good clothes, got flashy jobs, and even know how to cook and wash up. Tony’s been mad on you for ages.
  • 17. (After Joe says the club owners are considering him as Assistant Manager for the mens’ team, Jess and Joe start talking about how angry her parents are.)
  •      Joe: Your mom and dad didn’t look too pleased yesterday. I suppose you’ve come to tell me you’re off the team for good?
  •      Jess: It’s not fair. I feel like I’m either gonna let the team down or piss [my family] off. And I don’t want to upset anyone….
  •      Joe: Whose life are you living Jess? If you try pleasing them for ever, you’re going to end up blaming them.
  •      Jess: What, like you? [pause] Sorry.
  •      Joe: No. You’re right… I don’t talk to my Dad because I know what he’d say.
  •      Jess: How do you know? He might be proud that you haven’t given up. You should be proud of all you’ve given us.
  •      Joe: Then why are you giving up?
  • 18. (Jess goes to try to patch things with Jules; Jules’ mom greets her and tries to make small talk before taking Jess up stairs.)
  •      Paula: You know Jesminder, I cooked a lovely curry the other day… Jules, look who’s come to see you. It’s your Indian friend from football. Jules has been ever so down since you lost in Germany. Maybe you can cheer her up a bit.
  • 19. (Paula overhears a part of the conversation between Jess and Jules, but misunderstands everything. Her husband comes home and she tell him about it, in tears.)
  •      Paula: That’s why she’s been so depressed lately, ‘cause that Jess broke her heart! She’s in love…with a girl!
  •      Alan Paxton: You’re jumping to all the wrong conclusions.
  •      Paula: But I heard her! No wonder she never looked twice at that Kevin or brought any boys home. I tried to get her nice clothes; you know we’ve had some lovely prints in this summer, you know, in swimwear and sarongs and that. She never wants to go shopping with me. [pause] It was terrible what they did to that George Michael, going on about him and his private business in the papers like that! Oh No!
  •      Alan Paxton: George Michael is still a superstar and you still listen to Wham!
  • 20. (Talking alone in a park)
  •      Jess: Do you fancy me Tony?
  •      Tony: I like you, yeah…
  •      Jess (angry): Maybe we can go out, then, yeah?
  •      Tony: Jess, what’s going on. You’re acting all weird?
  •      Jess: I just think I need an Indian boyfriend. [pause] You know my coach, yeah? Well, I nearly kissed him in Germany. Jules likes him too, and now she hates me.
  •      Tony: Look, Jess. You can’t plan who you fall for. It just happens. I mean, look at… Posh and Becks.
  •      Jess: Well, Beckham’s the best.
  •      Tony (chuckles): Yeah! I really like Beckham too.
  •      Jess: Well, of course you do. No one can cross a ball or bend it like Beckham.
  •      Tony (shakes head): No, Jess. I really like Beckham.
  •      Jess: What? You mean… [Incredulous scoff at the thought that Tony might be gay] But you’re Indian! …My sister thinks you’re mad about me.
  •      Tony: I am. I just don’t want to marry you…. You’re not going to tell anyone?
  •      Jess: Of course not. It’s OK, Tony. I mean, it’s OK with me.
  •      Tony: Well, you fancying your gora coach is OK with me. Besides, he’s quite fit!
  • 21. (Mr. Bhamra discovers Jess lying again, and decides to go watch her play. He is impressed. Meanwhile, Jess is fouled when a player rips her shirt and says “Piss off Paki”; Jess starts a fight, which gets her a Red Card—kicked out of the game. Coach Joe got angry with Jess.)
  •      Joe: Jess, you could have cost us the tournament… Look, Jess. I saw it. She fouled you. She tugged your shirt. You just overreacted, that’s all.
  •      Jess: That’s not all. She called me a Paki. But I guess you wouldn’t understand what that feels like, would you?
  •      Joe: Jess, I’m Irish. Of course I understand what that feels like.
  •      (As the coach hugs Jess to console her, Mr. Bhamra walks up! In the next scene, Pinky’s boyfriend’s family comes over and gives permission for the wedding, which is scheduled for the same day as a big playoff game. When Jess starts to complain, the father angrily says, “Your sister needs you.”)
  • 22. (Jules’ parents are talking at the dinner table.)
  •      Alan: The teriyaki sauce is the goal keeper. The posh French mustard is the defender. The sea salt is the attacker. Now when the ball’s played forward, the sea salt has to be level with the mustard….
  •      Jules: What are you doing?
  •      Paula: Well, if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…
  •      Alan: Don’t laugh. I’m trying to teach your mother the offside rule. [refers to an official soccer rule]
  •      Paula: I’ve decided that I’ve got to take an interest or I’m going to lose you. This way, we can all enjoy football, as a family… [to her husband] Don’t tell me. The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt.
  •      Alan: She’s got it!
  • 23. (Jess’ parents pray before allowing her to open the results of her A-level report—in other words, to see the results of her “college entrance exam.” She did well.)
  •      Mr. Bhamra: Good. Jesminder Kaur Bhamra, B.L.L.B. You can become a fine top-class solicitor now.
  • 24. (Joe comes to the house and tells Mr. Bhamra that the talent scout is coming, and that it could be “the chance of a lifetime” for his daughter. After he leaves, Jess goes to talk to Joe, who really wants her to play.)
  •      Jess: Why are you doing this to me, Joe? Every time I talk myself out of it, you come around and make it sound so easy.
  •      Joe: I guess I don’t want to give up on you. [pause] So, are you promised to one of those blokes in there?
  •      Jess: Don’t be silly. I’m not promised to anyone.
  •      Joe: You’re lucky… to have a family that cares that much about you. I can understand you don’t want to mess with it.
  •      Jess: Joe…
  •      Joe: And I don’t fancy being busted by your dad again. You better get back. I hope all goes well with you tomorrow [at your sister’s wedding], and good luck with your studies. Come and see us sometime.
  • 25. (Wedding day and Match day. After Alan complains about Paula’s hat, we switch to the Bhamra’s leaving the house. We then switch back and forth between the two events: wedding and match.)
  •      Video Man: Eyes down. Don’t smile. Indian bride never smiles. You’ll ruin the bloody video.
  • 26. (Jess is miserable at the wedding. Tony sees it and says they can still get to the second half of the soccer game…)
  •      Jess: You’re mad. My mum and dad will go spare! I’ve got to put them first today.
  •      Tony: There’s so many people here, they won’t even notice.
  •      Jess: I can’t. Look how happy they are. I don’t want to ruin it for them.
  •      (Her dad walks up; Tony explains; Jess says she wants to stay at the wedding for their sake. But her father is tired of seeing her so sad.)
  •      Mr. Bhamra: Pinky is so happy and you look as if you’re at your father’s funeral. [Pointing accusingly] If this is the only way I’m going to see you smiling on your sister’s wedding day, then go now! But when you come back, I want to see you happy on the video. [She hugs her dad.] Play well, and make us proud!
  • 27. (The scout sees Jules and Jess play well, and offers them scholarships to play in Santa Clara, California. But again Jules’ mum misreads her daughter’s happiness and friendship with Jess. When Paula takes Jules to the wedding, Paula is very angry and acts weird!)
  •      Paula: Get your lesbian feet out of my shoes!
  •      Wedding Guest 1: Lesbian? Her birthday’s in March. I thought she was a Pisces.
  •      Wedding Guest 2: She’s no Lebanese, she Punjabi!
  •      [these comments are funny because the guests didn’t understand the English word “lesbian”; Lebanese means “from Lebanon” and Pisces is one of the 12 western Zodiac signs]
  • 28. (Mother and daughter in the car, leaving the wedding.)
  •      Jules (very embarrassed by her mother’s actions): What the bloody hell were you thinking?
  •      Paula: I saw you with my own eyes, kissing after your match. I’m not stupid, you know! And anyway, look at the clothes you wear!
  •      Jules: Mother, just because I wear trackies and play sport does not make me a lesbian! Me and Jess were fighting because we both fancied our coach… Joe.
  •      Paula (after a pause): Joe, a man, Joe?
  •      Jules (exasperated): Yeah, as in male, Joe! Joe, our coach, Joe, man, Joe! Anyway, being a lesbian is not that big a deal.
  •      Paula (hypocritically): Oh no, sweetheart, of course it isn’t. I mean, I’ve got nothing against it. I was cheering for Martina Navratilova as much as the next person.
  • 29. (Tony lies to Jess’ parents, saying he’ll marry her if they let her go abroad to study. They seem very happy…)
  •      Jess: Tony’s lying. We’re not getting married. Tony only said that to help me, but I’m not lying any more. I played in the final today [with Dad’s permission], and we won! …It was brilliant; I played the best ever! …I didn’t ask to be good at football, Gura Nanak must have blessed me.
  •      (She explains that she’s been offered a scholarship, and that she really wants to go, but WITH their permission, not against it. Her mother is very upset.)
  •      Mr. Bhamra: When those bloody English cricket players threw me out of their club like a dog, I never complained. On the contrary, I vowed that I will never play again. Who suffered? Me. But I don’t want Jessie to suffer. I don’t want her to make the same mistakes that her father made. Accepting life; accepting situations. I want her to fight, and I want her to win. Because I’ve seen her play [football]. She is brilliant! I don’t think anybody has the right of stopping her. [Jess hugs her dad.] Two daughters made happy in one day. What else can a father ask for?
  •      Mrs. Bhamra: At least I taught her full Indian dinner. The rest is up to God.
  • 30. (Jess can’t wait to share the news; she finds Joe on an empty football pitch)
  •      Jess: Joe! I’m going! They said I could go!
  •      [Joe and Jess hug tightly]
  •      Men in Background: Oi, oi, oi!
  •      Jess: I’m sorry, I forgot.
  •      Joe: That’s okay now. I’m not your coach anymore. We can do what we want.
  •      [Joe leans in to kiss Jess. Jess wants to, but pulls back]
  •      Jess: Joe…
  •      Joe: [quickly pulls away] Your dad’s not here is he?
  •      Jess: I’m sorry Joe. I can’t.
  •      Joe: I thought you wanted…
  •      Jess: Letting me go to America is a really big step for my mum and dad. I don’t know how they’d survive if I told them about you too.
  •      Joe: I guess there’s not much point with you going to America anyway. Is there?
  •      (Jess shakes her head and they hug each other tightly.)
  • 31. (The final scene is at the airport. Joe tells Jess he will work full time coaching the girls team as they try to turn “pro.”)
  •      Joe: Can’t keep losing all my best players to the Yanks, now can I? …Maybe after they train you up I’ll sign you – if I can afford you.
  •      Jess: Yeah you wish!
  •      Joe: Look, I can’t let you go without knowing.
  •      Jess: What?
  •      Joe: That even with the distance, and the concerns of your family, we might still have something. Don’t you think?


Interesting notes from IMDB:

–Beating out established players like Luis Figo and Ronaldo, Parminder Nagra (“Jess”) won the 2002 Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)’s International Football Personality of the Year Presidential award, the first female to ever receive the honor.

–Much of the movie’s plot centers around the main characters’ goal of going to the USA to play professional soccer for the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), and highlight clips are shown of several of the league’s superstars. On 18 September 2003 – just seven weeks after the movie’s official release in the United States – WUSA suspended operations due to financial problems. (According to Wikipedia in 2014, the league never recovered; other women’s soccer leagues include the Women’s Premier Soccer League and the W-League.)

–Director Cameos, Gurinder Chadha: You can see the movie’s director dressed in pink, in the conga-dance line at the wedding, while Jules & Jess are jogging, and at the party the night before the wedding (she is in the circle of relatives clapping, wearing a blue suit).


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