WATCH | Inside the WNBA’s unprecedented 2020 season with new ESPN documentary, 144

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Nneka Ogwumike #30 of the Los Angeles Sparks looks on before the game on 30 July 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nneka Ogwumike #30 of the Los Angeles Sparks looks on before the game on 30 July 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo: Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • 144 is a new documentary by ESPN that explores the challenges and triumphs during life in the WNBA's so-called "Wubble".
  • The film is accompanied by a short-form docu-series tilted In Her Shoes.
  • 144 will air on ESPN (DStv 218) on Women’s Day, 9 August 2021.

ESPN Africa brings viewers the very latest from its award-winning library of sports documentary films with 144.

The film goes behind the scenes of the unprecedented 2020 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) season.

Premiering across Africa on ESPN (DStv 218, Starsat 248) this South African Women’s Day, Monday 9 August at 11:45, with a repeat at 18:30 (CAT), the film offers exclusive access to the league’s 144 women athletes as they experience the thrilling on- and off-court action that a WNBA season produces, but this time in a protected social environment or bubble (or "Wubble" as it would be coined).

After the Covid-19 pandemic brought live sporting events to a halt, many leagues were forced to innovate to continue their seasons. The WNBA created a single site at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida where 144 players across 12 teams played 147 games from July to October 2020.

Directed by Lauren Stowell and Jenna Contreras, the latter who spent 62 days in the bubble, the documentary explores the season and everything that the players overcame to get through it: the Covid-19 pandemic, the demands of activism, and the rigors of an unrelenting schedule.

The trailer features the original song Enough is Enough from Disney Music Publishing artist, songwriter and activist Blush.

WNBA All-Star and ESPN commentator Chiney Ogwumike, who serves as executive producer on 144, said: "Developing this documentary about my sisters in the WNBA and the powerful 2020 season has been an honour.

"144 amplifies the story of how our league helped create unprecedented social change while redefining how we see strong female athletes compete at the highest level. It is a privilege to showcase the 144 women in their vulnerability letting cameras behind-the-scenes, their dedication to social impact, and their strength in navigating through one of the most challenging seasons we have ever had."

ESPN will also premiere In Her Shoes on 9 August which is a series of documentary short films profiling world renowned female athletes that are driving change in sports, highlighting their journeys and their own perspectives on sports.

The featured athletes include Naomi Osaka, Megan Rapinoe, Caterine Ibarguen, Ramla Ali, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Margielyn Didal, Nuria Disodado, Charlyn Corral, Alexa Moreno, Paola, Espinosa, Mariana Arceo and Kenia Lechuga.

"On top of the unmatched sporting portfolio of US and select International leagues, ESPN is also committed to bring viewers the very best storytelling in sports, from documentaries, to premiere news and studio sports programming," says Christine Service, senior vice president and country manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa.

"144 exemplifies this commitment and, together with In Her Shoes, provides an unique look into the inspiring tales behind challenges, triumphs and celebrates the incredible fortitude of female athletes," she added.

The Wubble explained: " The WNBA hosted its full 2020 season in a bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Despite being tasked with protecting the players and staff in the "Wubble" for 97 days, the league and medical professionals JobSiteCare managed to avoid an outbreak and keep more than 300 people safe."

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