Meet the Author: Warren St. John
Outcasts United explores the story of one woman’s work to change her community through soccer, and how ultimately, the community changed her. Luma Mufleh, a female immigrant from Jordan, was shopping when she came upon a large, sweaty group of boys engaged in a passionate and joyful game of barefoot soccer. Unlike sports games in her home country, the players were of different ethnicities and skin hues. She didn’t know that the federal Department of Immigration was settling refugees from the world’s most troubled countries — Somalia, Bosnia, Republic of Congo, for example — in Clarkston, Georgia, Luma’s adopted hometown.
This initial contact led to the formation of a community soccer team for boys — and to her unexpectedly growing commitment to a group of needy refugees, their families, and the greater community, as the teams encountered discrimination from the community, other soccer clubs, and inner dissent from boys of different cultural backgrounds. “I thought I would coach twice a week and on weekends — like coaching other kids,” Luma said. “It’s forty to sixty hours a week — coaching, finding jobs, taking people to the hospital. You start off on your own, and you suddenly have a family of a hundred and twenty.”
The Maryland Humanities Council says, “Outcasts United is ultimately the story about a changing community, and how that community grapples to create connections and a sense of unity despite incredible differences between its citizens.
I think the story has relevance in any place that is undergoing change, particularly changes that create greater diversity, whether ethnic, religious, economic, etc.”
At 300 pages and with an engaging writing style, the story of the Fugees would be good reading for adults or teens. Soccer teams may enjoy reading it together, as author Warren St. John is an experienced sports writer for the New York Times.
Jeanie Pfefferkorn (via Howard County Library’s Highly Recommended blog)