Outcasts United

cover-home Back during the summer I read Warren St. John's "Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference."  From the book's web site:

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.

I never played organized soccer, but I've had more interest in the sport as adult between following the World Cup and the boys each playing one or two seasons every year.  The combination of the descriptions of youth soccer and the inspiring story of Luma doing whatever she can to make a difference in those kids lives makes for enjoyable reading.