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Dallas Sting coach responds to Hollywood backing out of project

Bill Kinder was to be portrayed by Matthew McConaughey. That plan is now on indefinite hold.

RICHARDSON, Texas — The first inkling Bill Kinder had that Hollywood producers were becoming hesitant to tell the story of his 1980s version of the women's soccer team the Dallas Sting came in a phone call on Aug. 29.

"The Sting evolved out of the Spring Valley Athletic Association," he was telling WFAA in an interview at his Richardson home in an office rich with the mementos and memorabilia of a four-decade coaching career.

"We were the first girls' program we knew of, probably anywhere in the country," he said as we began to discuss his involvement in leading a team of young women to a tournament in China. 

"At the behest and encouragement of Lamar Hunt we ended up starting a soccer program," he said. "And girls didn't play soccer then. There were no other girls' soccer teams."

Long before the idea of a U.S. women's national soccer team was born, in 1984, Dallas Sting was chosen by the U.S. Soccer Federation to represent the U.S. in Xi'an, China, the first-ever FIFA tournament for women's national teams. Sting faced established National Teams from countries all over the world, defeating Australia, Japan, and China to advance to the finals where they beat Italy.

"We believed we were fitter, more prepared, able to compete with anybody anywhere," Kinder said.

Their story has been floating around Hollywood for several years, most recently with Skydance Media producing and Matthew McConaughey signing on to play Kinder.

"I thought the accomplishment of the girls was worth them getting the recognition they deserved," Kinder said to WFAA in an Aug. 29 interview. And that recognition that I believe they deserved was the fact that they were the stimulant that started the big movement of the United States soccer federation to form a national team."

"I think what the girls accomplished, what they started, what they helped create and generate, I think would definitely deserve recognition of a movie."

"He's a good actor. He's a Texas guy," he said of McConaughey's pending portrayal of the coach. "He doesn't have to work on the accent. It's gonna come natural to him."

But in the middle of that Aug. 29 interview, Kinder received a phone call from one of the movie producers, telling him that McConaughey's team had received a letter that made decades-old allegations against him. The producer said the allegations were not criminal in nature. But that a third party investigating the allegations would be reaching out to him for additional information.

"I'll be anxious to talk to them," Kinder told the producer on the phone.

"Any idea what that would be," I asked him after the phone call.

"I have no clue. I have no clue," he said. "Can't be anything significant because there isn't anything significant in my life that I can think of."

But now, two weeks after that phone call, Skydance and McConaughey decided to pull out of the project just weeks ahead of the beginning of filming scheduled for next month in Louisiana, as first reported by the Hollywood Reporter. Skydance has not yet responded to WFAA's request for additional clarification of the "allegations of misconduct."  Kinder says he doesn't know the specifics either.

"We are in the dark and would like to know but don't know if we will or not," he said in a Sept. 15 phone conversation with WFAA.  "We hope to learn more," he said.

He also said that for the benefit of that 1984 Dallas Sting team, many of whose players he says are still in the Dallas area and remain in contact with him, he hopes that Hollywood will eventually share their story with the world.

"I hope and I've been promised that it would be by everyone involved, that it would be an uplifting positive story," he said during our August interview.  "And that ultimately the girls get credit for what they accomplished."

Accomplishments, in Hollywood at least, that are still on hold.

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