A Review of Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town

Topics: United States, Refugee, Association football Pages: 6 (1954 words) Published: September 26, 2013
Outcasts united

The story of a refugee cocker
Team that changed a town

Warrant St. John

Published in USA, Apr 2009,320 pages.

About this Book
Outcasts United is the story of a refugee soccer team, a remarkable woman coach and a Small southern town turned upside down by the process of refugee resettlement. In the 1990s, that town, Clarkston, Georgia, became a resettlement center for refugees And a modern-day Ellis Island for scores of families from war zones in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to help keep Clarkston’s boys off the streets. These boys named themselves the Fugees --short for Refugees.

Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees, their families and their charismatic coach as they struggle to build new lives in a fading town overwhelmed by change. Theirs is a story about resilience in the face of extraordinary hardship, the power of one person to make a difference and the daunting challenge of creating community in a Place where people seem to have so little in common.

About the Author
Warren St. John has written for the New York Observer, The New Yorker, Wired and Slate, in addition to his work as a reporter for The New York Times. His first book, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania (2004), was Named one of Sports Illustrated’s best books of the year, and ranked number one on the Chronicle of Higher Education's list of the best books ever written about collegiate Athletics. His new book, Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town, was Published in the U.S. in April 2009, and in the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Japan and China later that year. St. John was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended Columbia College in New York City, where he now lives with his wife Nicole. Genre: the book is true story nonfiction.

The Coach:
Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian-born graduate of Smith College, grew up in Amman, the daughter of a wealthy businessman and a doting mother. But her decision to stay in the United States after college drove a wedge between Luma and her parents. Disappointed and angry at his daughter’s decision not to return home, Luma’s father cut her off completely. At twenty-two and in a country she barely knew, Luma was all alone.

After Smith, Luma moved to Decatur, Georgia, a progressive neighborhood on the eastern side of Atlanta. On a drive to a Middle Eastern grocery store in nearby Clarkston, she came upon a group of boys playing soccer in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Luma joined in. On return visits, she got to know the boys, learned about their backgrounds, and ultimately decided they needed a proper soccer program of their own.

At the time, Luma couldn’t have known how her simple plan to start a soccer team for refugee boys in Clarkston would present so many challenges. She had to fight to find a place for her team to play, in a town where soccer had come to symbolize unwelcome change. She had to find a way to get boys from over a dozen countries – white and black, Christian and Muslim – to play together as a team. And she had to do these things as an outsider herself – a woman soccer coach in a league dominated by male coaches, a Muslim woman in the Deep South. But her journey would change a town and the lives of many. The Team:

The Fugees come from Congo, Burundi, Sudan, Liberia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, among other countries. They are boys whose families were selected by the UNHCR for resettlement in a small town outside Atlanta called Clarkston. Most arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs and already in debt – owing thousands of dollars to a government agency for the cost of their one-way plane tickets to America. Once in the U.S., resettled refugees are given just three months of assistance from the...
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