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The lives of the young refugees of Clarkston, Georgia, have drastically changed since their first meeting with Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian immigrant from Amman, and now a multi-million Hollywood movie will tell her story to the world.
In Clarkston, soccer is not only a game, it is a political issue. Last summer, Clarkston's Mayor has issued a decree to ban soccer in the city fields, he said he will only allow baseball in his city; the difference between his city and others is the high percentage of refugees that Clarkston hosts, most of them escaped from wars in countries like Kosovo, Liberia, Gambia and Iraq.
As you can imagine, these refugees are not so estimated by original citizens, who think their American lifestyle is in danger after the new coming traditions, even soccer was accused to be something stranger and threatening, this was the time Americans discovered their fear of soccer .
When Luma Mufleh had first known about the refugees' community of Clarkston, she filled all the buildings of their quarters with Arabic, English, French and Vietnamese posters, announcing the creation of a new soccer team, the Fugees . Surprisingly, 23 young kids were present on the first day of training, a relevant number if we take in consideration the economic difficulties of their families; this was a good step to offer some technical training to the children rather than playing barefoot in empty lots.
Coach Luma, as she is called by Fugees boys, remembers when she was playing volleyball in her high school of Amman, she hated her coach because of their toughness, but after fifteen year she reveals she model herself after her school's coach, other sources of inspirations, she said, are Malcolm X, Mahatma Ghandi and Luma's grandmother that taught her to take care of others.
Some rules are imposed by Luma to all Fugees' players: good grades, short hair, no drugs, no alcohol or getting girls pregnant. If you break a rule you will be off the team. She also offers an incentive: a pair of Nikes to anyone with straight A's.
Luma's rules and training built a better life for these young refugees, now the Fugees have a respectable second position in their division, performing better than their European-trained opposing players and elite wealthy clubs. Luma has also opened a cleaning service named Fresh Start after knowing that some of the players' moms were without jobs.
The efforts of Luma Mufleh will be soon revealed to the world by a Hollywood movie, in fact, after a huge bidding war, Universal Studios acquired the right and offered a $3 Millions and a new, modern green field for the Fugees, and it's only a matter of time before we can see Luma's amazing story in the cinemas.
- New York Times article that made Fugees story famous, by W. St. John
- Ending up with more than a dream coming true : Jordan Times Article by R. Husseini
- Jordanian coach starts refugee soccer team: In the Jordanian Blog Mental Maihem
IMPORTANT: YOU CAN DONATE TO FUGEES FAMILY THE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION OF MS. LAMA MUFLEH HERE.