Vinny In ‘The Beautiful Game’ Is Based On Real-Life Lisa Wrightsman: Where Is She Now?


At the end of The Beautiful Game, Mal Bradley says, “You never really meet the ones who don’t make it.” I suppose Thea Sharrock’s sports film is all about that: meeting the ones who didn’t make it in life. Based on the inspiring true stories of real-life homeless soccer players, The Beautiful Game revolves around its protagonist, Vinny Walker, whose character is loosely based on a real-life sportswoman, Lisa Wrightsman. Unlike what we saw in Netflix’s film, Lisa Wrightsman is from Elk Grove, California, and not a UK citizen. A few creative liberties have been taken in the film to make the character more dramatic. However, in doing so, the film didn’t really tell us Lisa’s true story, which is indeed quite inspiring in itself. And therefore, I will take some of your time to discuss how Lisa made it in life after hitting rock bottom.

Who is Lisa Wrightsman?

From 1999-2002, while pursuing her bachelor’s degree from California State University-Sacramento, Lisa became a part of the university’s soccer team and was considered a college division one athlete. She even had plans to play professionally for the NWSL after finishing college. However, things didn’t go as planned, and Lisa had to walk out of the team, most likely for the same reason as that of Vinny. Lisa’s world came crumbling down, and in order to cope with the loss, she found her escape in drugs and alcohol. 

In around 2010, Lisa’s addiction got worse, and she was finally arrested and put behind bars in downtown Sacramento. The incident forced her to reflect on her life: how she ended up becoming a drug addict from an elite soccer player. Inside the prison cell, the guards gave Lisa a brochure with some breathing techniques to calm her nerves. However, on that piece of paper, Lisa found her answer. It taught her that every crisis was an opportunity to either make it or break it. And thankfully, Lisa made the right choice and decided to make amends in her life because she wanted another shot at living.

Soon after her release, Lisa enrolled herself in a rehabilitation program; however, it wasn’t that that changed her life. During her sobriety, she came across a street soccer program designed to help homeless individuals. It reminded Lisa that she loved something before she became an addict. She finally realized that the value of being a part of the game was much higher than anything else. 

In 2010, Lisa changed her life completely and went to participate in a Street Soccer USA tournament in Washington, DC. However, the men’s team, which she was a part of, wasn’t like any other sports team. These guys weren’t professional soccer players. There were just a bunch of homeless guys who were trying to stay sober, something we saw in Netflix’s The Beautiful Game. Just like Vinny, Lisa used her experiences from her past life to teach these guys how to play the game. Lisa later found out that the USA tournament was a trial for the 8th Homeless World Cup which took place in 2010. She became a part of the American team for the tournament and finally realized her dream to play the game professionally in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Just like in Netflix’s film, Lisa’s team didn’t win the tournament; however, being there on the beautiful Copacabana Beach was an experience in itself. It made Lisa realize, just like it did Vinny, that not everything was about winning or losing. It was about love for the game and being there for each other on the field. At the end of The Beautiful Game, Vinny, too, became a coach for the Street Soccer UK program and started helping the homeless players so that they could take part in the next tournament and represent their country.

How Did Lisa Meet Her Partner?

While The Beautiful Game’s Vinny was already married and had a kid when we first met him in the film, his real-life counterpart, Lisa, met her life partner a little later in life. Upon her return from Brazil, Lisa became an integral part of Street Soccer USA, as the game helped her stay sober and gave her a purpose in life. In her new life, Lisa loved being a coach for the homeless team. For her, it was not only about helping herself; hundreds of other people were suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, and she wanted to do her part for them. Soccer became Lisa’s means to help society in the best possible manner she could. It was at the same program that she met her future life and business partner, Tiffany Fraser.

When Tiffany met Lisa, she was running an informal women’s street soccer team in Sacramento, and Tiffany, looking for a place to volunteer, eventually became a part of it. Tiffany hails from the same university, and the duo quickly clicked. Together, they founded the Sacramento chapter of the prestigious Street Soccer USA. Their official women’s team came to be known as the Lady Salamanders, which also took part in the 18th Homeless World Cup in Sacramento, USA (SSUSA). Lisa and Tiffany got married in 2019.

Where are Lisa and Tiffany now?

As of now, the couple has settled down in Sacramento, where they manage and look after their organization. Lisa is the managing director of the SSUSA, while Tiffany works as the chief of staff. Through their various soccer programs, they try to help the homeless individuals in the community. The game provides a space and sense of belonging among a group of individuals whom they can happily call a family. Every player on the team is supportive of each other. The game gives them a platform to express their talent and become visible to the entire world, which they would otherwise have lost due to their circumstances. They not only help themselves but each other in the best possible manner they can, just like we saw in The Beautiful Game. Lisa and Tiffany also took an active part in the making of the Netflix film and have been promoting their labor of love on various social media sites. They want everyone to cherish their efforts and enjoy the beautiful game they have created.

- Advertisement -
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This