Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One by Warren St. John

By Warren St. John

The intense story of a refugee adolescence football workforce and the transformation of a small American town

Clarkston, Georgia, used to be a standard Southern city till it was once targeted a refugee payment heart within the Nineteen Nineties, turning into the 1st American domestic for ratings of households in flight from the world’s conflict zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. unexpectedly Clarkston’s streets have been full of girls donning the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and children of all colours taking part in football in any open house they can locate. the city additionally turned domestic to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian girl who based a early life football group to unify Clarkston’s refugee childrens and retain them off the streets. those children named themselves the Fugees.

Set opposed to the backdrop of an American city that with out its consent had develop into an enormous social scan, Outcasts United follows a pivotal season within the lifetime of the Fugees and their charismatic trainer. Warren St. John files the lives of a various team of children as they miraculously coalesce right into a band of brothers, whereas additionally drawing a desirable portrait of a fading American city suffering to house its new arrivals. on the middle of the tale is fiery trainer Luma, who relentlessly drives her gamers to luck at the football box whereas keeping jointly their lives—and the lives in their families—in the face of a sequence of daunting challenges.

This fast moving chronicle of a unmarried season is a posh and encouraging story of a small city turning into a world community—and an account of the creative and complex methods we create a house in a altering international.

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Extra resources for Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference

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Luma had hoped to relocate the Fugees to the town park—the very park from which Mayor Swaney had banned soccer. And so with only a few weeks to go before tryouts, she found herself scrambling to find her team a home. The mayor’s decree hinted at tensions that went well beyond issues of turf management. In Clarkston, soccer, it seemed, meant something different from what it meant in most places. It was the international game in a town that had had its fill of international influences. The experiment in getting along, it seemed to me, was apparently very much ongoing, and the results would have relevance well beyond Clarkston.

A 3–1 lead at halftime would have pleased most soccer coaches. But Luma was seething. Her head down, she marched angrily to a corner of the field, the Fugees following behind sullenly. They could tell she was unhappy. They braced themselves for what they knew was coming. Luma ordered them to sit down. “Our team has taken nine shots and made three—they’ve taken two shots and made one,” she told them, her voice sharp and strident. “You’re outrunning them, outhustling them, outplaying them—why are you only winning three to one?

Luma shouted to her players to gather around her and gave them their position assignments—Christian was told to play striker, on offense—and they took the field. Forty or so parents had gathered on the home team’s sideline to cheer on their boys, and they clapped as their sons walked onto the pitch. There was no one on the Fugees’ sideline. Most of the players came from single-parent families, and their mothers or fathers—usually mothers—stayed home on weekends to look after their other children, or else worked, because weekend shifts paid more.

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