Finally, A Team We Can Really Root For

In case you missed it in last Sunday's New York Times, the Fugees are a group of three youth soccer teams from Clarkston, Ga., who are having big problems finding a place to play. Clarkston residents, you see, don't like soccer. "There will be nothing but baseball and football down there as long as I am mayor," Lee Swaney, a retired owner of a heating and air-conditioning business, told the local paper. "Those fields weren't made for soccer." But the Fugees have been up against bigger obstacles. Their name is short for "refugees," and they are determined to prevail.

The Fugees are indeed all refugees, from the most troubled corners — Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burundi, Congo, Gambia, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan. Some have endured unimaginable hardship to get here: squalor in refugee camps, separation from siblings and parents. One saw his father killed in their home.

Their story is about children with miserable pasts trying to make good with strangers in a very different and sometimes hostile place. But as a season with the youngest of the three teams revealed, it is also a story about the challenges facing resettled refugees in this country. More than 900,000 have been admitted to the United States since 1993, and their presence seems to bring out the best in some people and the worst in others.

Plenty to think about here, not all of it good. At any rate, a change of pace from the usual youth sports nonsense that we're all used to. We'd suggest doing yourself a favor and reading it if you've got some time. Though if you're lazy, don't worry: Warren St. John, the author (and editor and author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer) has the inevitable movie deal all set up.

Refugees Find Hostility And Hope On Soccer Field [New York Times, via Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer]
Parents Use Mobiles To Foil Penalties [Manchester Evening News]