In Football We Trust

Synopsis: "In Football We Trust" captures a snapshot in time amid the rise of the Pacific Islander presence in the NFL. Presenting a new take on the American immigrant story, this feature length documentary transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah. With unprecedented access and shot over a four-year time period, the film intimately portrays four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through American football. Viewed as the "salvation" for their families, these young players reveal the culture clash they experience as they transform out of their adolescence and into the high stakes world of collegiate recruiting and rigors of societal expectations.
Director(s): Tony Vainuku, Erika Cohn (co-director)
Production: ITVS
  1 nomination.
87 min

[Man shouting

in foreign language]

[Men shout in foreign language]

We come from

a line of warriors.

Our culture embodies

what football is.

Game announcer:
And Polamalu

picks it up.


Game announcer:
Sikahema will go

all the way for a touchdown!

My father pushed

the football

once he understood

what football could do.


All right, let's go, baby!

If you're gonna pull out,

we're gonna be butchered.

[Music playing]

I think they see NFL

as, like, kind of a...

winning the lottery, you know?

[Crowd cheering]

[School bell rings]

We're gonna

do a different one.

It's so much easier.

It's Highland's...


I'm Fihi Kaufusi.

I go to Highland High School.

Fihi, voice-over:

And I'm Polynesian.

A lot of people

don't know, really,

anything about Polynesians.

People think we're big Mexicans.

Dang, man.

We're trying to gather

the boys to do the haka.


But, like, we hardly...

they don't know it,

and so that's why...

Are you gonna teach them?

I know how to teach them,

but, like, they're

worried about their class.

They're going to class,

like, and they're gonna

mark them late... Yeah.

So can you write them a note?

Yeah. Do you want to come

in here and practice?

I'm taking my class

down to the library.

All right. We'll come in here.

I don't like school,

but football makes it so

if I don't pass my classes,

then I can't play,

so I try to do my best.

See you, dude.

No one in my family

has ever been to college.

You know, they've

gotten close...

but they've, uh,

messed up, and...

I don't want to be like that.

That's Mike

[Indistinct] and them.

Hey, go up to Katie's room.

Go to Katie's room right now.

I'm gonna go grab

[Indistinct] and them.

All right.

Football. By far, it's football.

Hey, for... hey, listen.

[Speaking foreign language]

And then you...


And then go slowly.

Flex your muscles and go down.

Uh! Ah!


[Speaking foreign language]

That means, like,

get ready for battle.

It's time. And then everyone

gets up and just goes, vroom!

[Chanting in foreign language]

Some face this way,

forward, and that way.

I know. It's cool.

Yeah, but try learning

it first so you...

because you don't

really look that good.

[Shouting in foreign language]

[Chanting in foreign language]

[Shouts in foreign language]


[Laughter and cheering]

Say it!

It doesn't matter

where I grew up,

where I'm from, how much

money my Mom and Dad have.

All that...goes out the window.

One thing matters on this team.

It's the guy next

to me on the right,

the guy next to me on the left,

and the 65 behind my ass

that have my back.

Fihi, voice-over: When I sat

down with Coach Benson,

he told me the things

that I could be in the future

and the things that

Polynesians struggle with.

We have, you know,

all the talent in the world,

but hardly any of us, like,

do good, because we, um...

we're more into, uh,

helping out our family.

The thing that he told me is,

first try to help me out

and make me be the best I can be

before I can help out my family.

At first I didn't like it.

I thought he meant,

like, you know,

turn my back on my family,

and I didn't... didn't

really like that,

but now that I think

about it, you know,

there's a lot of little brothers

and sisters that I have,

and if they see me,

hopefully they...

they want to do better.


OK, not now.

I'm focusing. Not now.

I always have

a personal prayer

before the game starts.

I always write my

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "In Football We Trust" STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 30 Nov. 2022. <>.

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