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Outcasts United
Cover of Outcasts United
Outcasts United
The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town
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A moving account of how a soccer team made up of diverse refugees inspired an entire community here in the United States.   Based on the adult bestseller, Outcasts United: An American Town, a...
A moving account of how a soccer team made up of diverse refugees inspired an entire community here in the United States.   Based on the adult bestseller, Outcasts United: An American Town, a...
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Description-

  • A moving account of how a soccer team made up of diverse refugees inspired an entire community here in the United States.
     
    Based on the adult bestseller, Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference, this young people's edition is a complex and inspirational story about the Fugees, a youth soccer team made up of diverse refugees from around the world, and their formidable female coach, Luma Mufleh.
     
    Luma Mufleh, a young Jordanian woman educated in the United States and working as a coach for private youth soccer teams in Atlanta, was out for a drive one day and ended up in Clarkston, Georgia, where she was amazed and delighted to see young boys, black and brown and white, some barefoot, playing soccer on every flat surface they could find. Luma decided to quit her job, move to Clarkston, and start a soccer team that would soon defy the odds. Despite challenges to locate a practice field, minimal funding for uniforms and equipment, and zero fans on the sidelines, the Fugees practiced hard and demonstrated a team spirit that drew admiration from referees and competitors alike.
     
    Outcasts United explores how the community changed with the influx of refugees and how the dedication of Lumah Mufleh and the entire Fugees soccer team inspired an entire community. 
    Praise for Outcasts United
     
    “An uplifting underdog story.”—Kirkus Reviews
     
    “Motivating messages that will resonate with teen readers.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review
     
    Praise for Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference
     
    “Wonderful, poignant book is highly recommended..."–Library Journal, Starred Review
     
    “Engagingly written.”—School Library Journal
     
    “Richly detailed, uplifting … educational and enriching.”—Kirkus Reviews
     
    “Dee"Inspiring...richly detailed...Deeply satisfying...a bighearted book."—Shelf Awareness

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One Chapter One

    Luma

    The name Luma means “dark lips,” though Hassan and Sawsan al-Mufleh chose it for their first child less because of the shade of her lips than because they liked the sound of the name–short, endearing, and cheerful–in the context of both Arabic and English. The al-Mufl ehs were a wealthy, Westernized family in Amman, Jordan, a teeming city of two million, set among nineteen hills and cooled by a swirl of dry desert breezes. The family made its fortune primarily from making rebar–the metal rods used to strengthen concrete–which it sold across Jordan. Hassan had attended a Quaker school in Lebanon, and then college in the United States at the State University of New York in Oswego–“the same college as Jerry Seinfeld,” he liked to tell people.

    Luma’s mother, Sawsan, was emotional and direct, and there was never any doubt about her mood or feelings. Luma, though, took after her father, Hassan, a man who mixed unassailable toughness with a capacity to detach, a combination that seemed designed to keep his emotions hidden for fear of revealing weakness.

    “My sister and my dad don’t like people going into them and knowing who they are,” said Inam al-Mufl eh, Luma’s younger sister byeleven years and now a researcher for the Jordanian army in Amman.

    “Luma’s very sensitive but she never shows it. She doesn’t want anyone to know where her soft spot is.”

    As a child, Luma was doted on by her family, sometimes to an extraordinary degree. At the age of three, Luma idly mentioned to her grandmother that she thought her grandparents’ new Mercedes 450 SL was “beautiful.” The next day, the grandparents’ driver showed up at Hassan and Sawsan al-Mufl eh’s home with a gift: a set of keys to the Mercedes, which, they were told, now belonged to their threeyear-old daughter.

    Hassan too doted on his eldest child. He had high expectations for her, and imagined her growing up to fulfi ll the prescribed role of a woman in a prominent Jordanian family. He expected her to marry, to stay close to home, and to honor her family.

    From the time Luma was just a young girl, adults around her began to note her quiet confi dence, which was so pronounced that her parents occasionally found themselves at a loss.

    “When we would go to the PTA meetings,” Hassan recalled, “they’d ask me, ‘Why are you asking about Luma? She doesn’t need your help.’ ”

    Sometimes, Luma’s parents found themselves striving to please their confi dent daughter, rather than the other way around. Hassan recalled that on a family vacation to Spain when Luma was ten or eleven years old, he had ordered a glass of sangria over dinner, in violation of the Muslim prohibition against drinking alcohol. When the drink arrived, Luma began to sob uncontrollably.

    “She said, ‘I love my father too much–I don’t want him to go to hell,’ ” Hassan recalled. He asked the waitress to take the sangria away.

    “I didn’t drink after that,” he said.

    Luma encouraged–or perhaps demanded–that her younger sister, Inam, cultivate self-suffi ciency, often against Inam’s own instincts or wishes.

    “She was a tough older sister–very tough love,” Inam said. “She would make me do things that I didn’t want to do. She never wanted me to take the easy way out. And she wouldn’t accept me crying.”

    Inam said that she has a particularly vivid memory of her older...

About the Author-

  • WARREN ST. JOHN is the author of the national bestsellers "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Journey into the Heart of Fan Mania" and "Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference." A former reporter for the New York Times, he has also written extensively for The New Yorker, the New York Observer, and Wired. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, attended Columbia University and now lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 22, 2008
    St. John (Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer
    ) builds on his 2007 New York Times
    article about the Fugees, a soccer program for boys from families of refugees from war-torn nations who have been resettled in the town of Clarkston, Ga., 13 miles east of Atlanta. Led by the founder and coach Luma Mufleh, a strong-willed, Jordanian woman who turned her back on a privileged past to stay in America after attending Smith College, the three youth teams are a conglomeration of players from Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East. The challenges they face are many, including an ongoing fight against city hall for a field on which to play, and getting by with subpar equipment. Their biggest challenge, however, is the difficulty immigrants face in learning the ways of a strange land and living with the memories of tragedy (some players had lost a parent to violence or imprisonment). In spite of it all, the Fugees compete admirably with mostly white, better-funded suburban teams. St. John begins with an inspiring description of a beautifully played game and then delves into the team's formation, but his storytelling takes on the methodical approach of a long series of newspaper articles that lack narrative flair and progression.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2012
    An inspiring account of a young Jordanian immigrant who created Fugees, a soccer program for refugees from war-torn nations. Adapted from an adult book of the same title, St. John tells the story of how Luma Mufleh formed a soccer team composed of young refugees from all over the world, rescued by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and living together in a crime-ridden settlement in suburban Atlanta. After seeing refugee children playing soccer in vacant lots around town, Mufleh persuaded the local YMCA to fund a free soccer program and signed on as its unpaid coach. The children she recruited came from such war-ravaged countries as Liberia, Sudan, Zaire, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The team offered youngsters traumatized by civil war and genocide the chance to enjoy a familiar recreation and an alternative to gangs. In addition to coaching, Mufleh often acted as counselor and surrogate parent to children whose own parents worked long hours. Though insightful about immigration and the challenges of assimilation, the fast-paced account lacks sufficient detail about the experiences that forced the players to leave their home countries. An uplifting underdog story that will appeal to readers interested in the immigrant experience and the surprising role sports can play in people's lives. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2012

    Gr 7 Up-In this young adult adaptation of Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference (Spiegel & Grau, 2009), St. John presents the remarkable, inspiring story of a persevering female coach, a soccer team of refugee boys, and the Georgia town that is their home. With conviction and skill, Jordanian Luma Mufleh established and coached three soccer teams known as the Fugees. Her players were haunted by memories of war-torn homelands and personal tragedies and were struggling to adjust to life in the United States. However, her high expectations and willingness to help families impacted her young players. Despite challenges to locate a practice field, minimal funding for uniforms and equipment, and zero fans on the sidelines, the Fugees practiced hard and demonstrated a team spirit that drew admiration from referees and even their competitors. Featuring pivotal soccer games and anecdotes about interactions between a coach and her players, tension among the boys, family responsibilities, and a town wrestling with its changing identity, St. John delivers a vivid, cohesive story about hope and determination. Profiles are enriched with background information on the conflicts that drove the players from their homes in Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. Respecting cultural differences, building a global community, and the importance of getting involved are powerful, motivating messages that will resonate with teen readers, not just soccer fans.-Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2012
    Grades 6-10 Exciting youth soccer action blends with politics in this story of refugee kids from across the world, including Kosovo, Mozambique, Liberia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Sudan, who find home in the small town of Clarkston, Georgia. There, a tough volunteer coach, Luma Mufleh from Jordan, organizes three youth soccer teams that take on other local players and sometimes win. Adapted for young people from New York Times journalist St. John's 2009 adult book with the same title, the account is filled with fast kicks, scrimmages, dribbles, crosses, corners, shots, and misses on the field that will grab kids, as will the harrowing stories of what the families fled from and their continuing struggle. Unlike the home teams, with their benches of supporters, the refugee teams have parents who are too busy holding multiple jobs to attend games. Fierce Mufleh is part of the drama as she takes on the local politicians who try to kick the refugees off their practice park, and she is just as fierce with players who do not follow the rules.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

  • Starred Review, School Library Journal

    "Respecting cultural differences, building a global community, and the importance of getting involved are powerful, motivating messages that will resonate with teen readers, not just soccer fans."

  • Kirkus Reviews "An uplifting underdog story that will appeal to readers interested in the immigrant experience and the surprising role sports can play in people's lives."
  • Booklist "Exciting youth soccer action blends with politics . . . filled with fast kicks, scrimmages, dribbles, crossses, corners, shots, and misses on the field that will grab kids, as will the harrowing stories of what the families fled from their continuing struggle."

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    Random House Children's Books
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