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The Beautiful Game: Sixteen Girls and the Soccer Season That Changed Everything Paperback – 1 Sep 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380808609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380808601
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,776,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"REQUIRED READING! You'll cheer for the girls...and may even shed a tear. Best of all, you'll have found a new set of teammates without breaking a sweat." -- "Sports Illustrated for Women"This is a season inside, an honest look at a girls elite soccer team...worth reading whether you are a soccer player, a soccer parent, or both." -- "Los Angeles Times"A well-balanced journey that celebrates sports, girlhood, and determination." --"San Francisco Examiner"This is a story that should be passed along, girl to girl, mother to mother, dad to dad." --"USA TODAY.com"An exciting book, filled with team spirit, similar to IN THESE GIRLS HOPE IS A MUSCLE." --"Booklist"Well-written, readable...This find book deserves wide readership among both young female athletes and their parents." --"Library Journal

From the Author

A real-life story of an inspirational soccer team
June 9, 1999

Watching the Men’s World Cup last year quickly taught me that my then 3-year-old daughter old cared not a whit for men, but wanted to see women play.

I had taken her to see a girls team play in Santa Rosa in the vague hope that it might somehow turn into a book. I wasn’t a sports writer or the author of soccer books. I’ve always written about things that I find personally compelling, and it struck me that the story of a girls' season could be a moving drama. I also imagined it would be a lot of fun. As a former college player who has loved the game since boyhood, I could think of few things more enjoyable than watching a season of soccer games.

I was lucky. It just so happened that the Santa Rosa Thunder team was playing for its first woman coach, Emiria Salzmann, a former All American. The girls were from both sides of town, two teams thrown together. It wasn’t clear at all that they’d even talk to one another, let alone win games.

More than a year later, I feel fortunate to have been part of this rich, emotional experience. The girls of the Santa Rosa Thunder taught me much about competition, sportswomanship and friendship. The girls, coach and parents graciously allowed me to become part of their community. I got to witness the joyous, emotional meetings before big games as well as the pained ones with parents when things didn’t seem to be going as planned. I saw great soccer and the days when back passes spun awry and every shot seemed to hit the crossbar. I talked to the girls about their lives beyond soccer, and the difficulties they faced in fitting in at school and with their peers.

Before starting this book I’d read enough to know a little of the enormous obstacles girls face in adolescence. Experts say that sports are a wonderful outlet for girls and boys. Still, I didn’t expect soccer to be a miracle drug. But this strong woman coach challenged sixteen girls to bond as a team, to become independent, resilient young women, and in my view, these once ordinary players surprised everyone, including their coach.

I have no idea if my daughter will decide she wants to play soccer, let alone compete on a team like the Santa Rosa Thunder. But I hope she finds something like this in life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 30 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Littman deserves congratulations for his hours of interviewing and hard work putting together the inspiring story of these Bay Area young girls who came together as a team. I will focus here on a couple of issues that the reader might want to watch for.
Much like a university class where the reading list and assignments are better than the professor, so this is an excellent character study from which the perceptive reader will get more than the author seems to grasp. In style, the first half is written in the mode of a soccer game, which I found frustratingly hard to follow and inappropriate to normal prose. Thank goodness for the team photo and names on the back. The latter half settles down and is much easier to follow.
Substantively, Mr. Littman seems to believe -- he repeats it at least two or three times -- that the response of these girls to a coach more prone to offering criticism than praise disproves the stereotype that only guys can take criticism. In one sense, this is no revelation: girls have been taking it from their parents and turning out just as well as boys for many thousands of years. In that vein the author misses the point: like children in a family of smart, warm but abusive parents, the girls came together in spite of their young coach's angry personality. The technical skills and training the coach had to offer and the experience of going through it together, including the competition, was what brought these spirited girls together. By the end of the book the author seems to realize that this sort of coaching style won't be accepted much longer by the girls. I think what he fails to confront is that no athlete should have to take harsh criticism and a runaway coaching ego, female or male. Mr.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a soccer book, but so much more. It's a book that explores the coming of age of teenage girls, but it's even more than that. It is a celebration of what sports can do for our children and a revelation of what soccer means to our young women today.
As a soccer fanatic, this book satisfied my thirst for soccer action, but it also helped me gain real insight into my daughter's teenage world. The soccer players in this book are led, often against their will at first, by a women coach who teaches them that the greatest lesson of sports is learned when making a personal and collective commitment to compete at the highest level.
This is a can't miss book. You won't be disappointed.
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By A Customer on 7 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
As the Women's World Cup fills stadium seats and 6 to 7 million girls are now playing organized soccer, Littman's chronicle of a U-14 girls A level soccer team is somehow exquisitely timely and topical. This is a good book. Not just because you can't wait to see whether the team and it's members are going to meet each succeeding challenge, but because it reflects something new: the girls are defining new roles as the country embraces an old sport. The Beautiful Game not only has the tradition of great sports melodrama, but is also reminicient of the guts and determination of Halberstam's The Amateurs. A great snapshot of a work in progress--women to be, in athletics.
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Format: Hardcover
No other book provides such a moving insight into the mind of 13/14 year old girls who are striving to be the best they can be. You don't have to be a soccer fan (though the book will convert you) to both enjoy and learn from this story. You won't be able to put it down and you will not want it to ever end. My first action after reading the book was to e-mail the author to find out how the girls had fared after February '99 (when the book ends).
For the sake of this generation of girls, please read this book if you are in any way responsible for or connected with the education, training, or raising of a young lady.
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Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Littman's The Beautiful Game is a wonderful book about a season inside a high-level girls' soccer team. His time spent with the team allows him to give the reader a very well-rounded view of the players, what motivates them (or doesn't) and how they react to and deal with the pressure involved in dedicating themselves to their team and, ultimately, each other. This book is a must-read for not just fans of youth sports and soccer, but anyone who's ever had any interest in getting some insight into today's youth. I couldn't reccomend it any more strongly!
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