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Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town

Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town [Kindle Edition]

Warren St. John
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description


‘Remarkable … Like all good books about sport, this is about much more than sport …This is a marvellous story, all the more moving for being written straight by a talented reporter.’ Mike Atherton, The Times

‘“Outcasts United” succeeds so emphatically because, just as the Fugees are so much more than a football team, this is much more than a sports book … a dense and unjudgmental portrait of America in the 21st century (and a vital primer to African and colonial history in the last one).’ Tim Lewis, Observer

‘Mufleh – a heady mixture of Brian Clough, Alex Ferguson and Martin Luther King – has wrought an astonishing transformation in the boys and their families, becoming not just a coach but a surrogate parent and stand-in social worker. St John’s expertly told account has been described as “heartwarming”, as if Mufleh has solved all the problems of multiculturalism at a stroke. Not yet, she hasn’t, but she has proved the truth of another football cliché: sometimes it is, indeed, more than just another game.’ Chris Maume, Independent

Product Description

The extraordinary story of a refugee football team and the transformation of a small American town.

Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement centre in the 1990s, becoming home to scores of families in flight from the world's war zones - from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston's streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colours playing football in any open space they could find. Among them was Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian woman who founded a youth football team to unify Clarkston's refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees.

Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents the lives of a diverse group of young people as they miraculously coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the centre of the story is fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the football field while holding together their lives - and the lives of their families - in the face of a series of daunting challenges.

This fast-paced chronicle of a single season is a complex and inspiring tale of a small town becoming a global community - and an account of the ingenious and complicated ways we create a home in a changing world.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 460 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B009IHPOYS
  • Publisher: William Collins (6 Feb 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HY5CV7O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #581,542 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars football 12 Oct 2010
This is the fascinating story of a well educated Jordanian young lady Luma Mufleh who when completing her university in America refused to return home and drifted to Clarkston,Georgia a town that had been designated a resettlement centre.
From a meagre start she formed 3 football teams(under 13,15 and 17)called the Fugees.Team members were mainly from Africa and the Middle East.Her great successes and a few failures are well documented by the author-a New York Times journalist.
The YMCA and particularly the mayor of Clarkston emerge with their reputations badly damaged.
A must read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good page turner! 7 Jan 2010
By DanR
A good book, in my opinion well told. Short chapters and the flicking between comments on football, then on family backgrounds do make the book feel episodic, but not in a way which separates you from the narrative or gets in the way of the book's aim. The refugee's lives are episodic anyway, as is football itself - if you play the game yourself, you'll know that it is all about anticipation of matchday, and then the anticlimax of whatever 'real' life is for a week. So the book's structure to me,fits in well.
It's a good story after all, and a genuinely uplifting tale. The only criticism for me is that the book states that it doesn't want to present coach Luma as a saint / hero figure - but perhaps it does stray too far towards this. If you watch Luma in interviews she is very humble and down to earth, and the rapport she has with the refugees is clearly overwhelmingly supportive, not really sentimental at all.
Maybe this is the difference between an American writer and a European; one only hopes that if the Fugee's story does get to Hollywood, it isn't mawkishly over-sentimentalised and is filmed in an acceptably gritty and realistic way. As for the book though, enjoy it as a tale of human life and optimism, or an essay on urban America, rather than a book about sport - and enjoy.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Story -- Poorly Told 2 Nov 2009
Since I tend to read most books about soccer that I happen to hear about, this much buzzed-about book eventually made it to the top of my pile. Even then I shied away from it for a while, since I'm leery of books that are described as "inspirational." Nonetheless, I eventually cracked the spine, and discovered that it's that rare breed of book that's both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because it actually is kind of inspirational and will open the reader's eye to the daunting financial and social issues faced by refugees in the United States. Frustrating because it is neither well constructed nor well written.

The book revolves around the determined efforts of a young Jordanian immigrant woman to build a youth soccer club in a small town about fifteen miles outside of Atlanta. The twist is that her club is comprised of kids (or rather, boys) from the town's large refugee population of Liberians, Albanians, Afghans, etc. This allows the author to explore the many financial and social problems refugees face in trying to resettle in the United States, as well as the interesting effects of such demographic change in some of the areas where aid agencies place them. St. John does a reasonably good journalistic job of tracing the woman's backstory and detailing her efforts to establish the club, and the various administrative and cultural roadblocks she had to overcome.

This story originally appeared as a series of articles in the New York Times, and I'm guessing it was actually better in that shorter format. Here, the clunky writing becomes glaringly obvious, as does his inability to write well about the game of soccer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A curiosity 7 Oct 2009
This is an interesting book describing how one of, possibly, the most determined women in the world crafted a successful football team from very diffeent failies of refugees. This gave them self-pride, purpose, motivation, medals etc and helped them to avoid some of the potential pitfalls of close living in poverty.
Its readable rather than gripping, but worth reading.
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i bought this book on the strength of a review in a quality sunday paper.I was excited by the subject and theme.The story is inspirational,an outsider motivated by a dream unites a group of refugee children using the power of football to engage and promote values and aspirations against the odds.The book explores the impact of globilisation and the journey's of the families explaining how this process causes changes for all, even the established community of Clarkston a southern American town meaning "as the world becomes globilized,we'ii all be searching for home".However the voice of the children is not central to the narrative rather the view of Luma the charismatic coach dominates.This means there is very little analysis of her somewhat unscientific coaching and motivational techniques.The role sport can play in promoting fun ,friendship ,inclusion,equality and excellence is not adequately described.What about the children not good enough to make the team? Why is winning so important?These and other questions need answering given the wider all embracing vision set out at the beginning of the book.An exploration using the voice of the children may have provided more answers and provided a model that could be applied to other settings.A missed opportunity!
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