Monday, December 7, 2009

The Fugees: soccer, hope,redemption and the immigrant experience

Two years ago, Warren St John of the New York Times, wrote an article about a soccer club composed of refugees from some of the most violent nations in the world and their volunteer coach, a young woman, Luma Mufleh.

It is an inspiring story about how Ms Mufleh, an immigrant herself, used soccer as a vehicle to help her players adapt to their new lives in the United States.

While the experiences of these athletes are unique and in many cases horrifying, generations of immigrants have built soccer clubs in the US and used them as a supportive community to understand and adapt to their new circumstances.

Long before the soccer had established a foothold in Milwaukee's suburbs, immigrants had organized ethnic clubs like Verdi, the Bavarians, the Serbs, the Croatian Eagles, and Polonia. Many of Milwaukee's soccer legends like Bob Gansler and Mario Carini played for these clubs that were firmly rooted in the city's immigrant neighborhoods. One of the largest clubs in Milwaukee today, Club Latino, continues this tradition.

St John has now written a book, "Outcasts United," about the Fugees soccer club which is shorthand for Refugees. It's a great read. To learn more about the Fugees and how soccer serves as an effective vehicle for self expression and acculturation read the book or watch attached video.