Back in the 80s, Clarkston was just another anonymous suburb in danger of being overrun by the urban sprawl of Atlanta. It was, as the wistful Mayor remembers it, no more than 'a sleepy little town by the railroad tracks'. Tell that same Mayor back then that his quiet constituency would become a focal point of refugee culture in the US and he might have looked at you askance. Add that it would also be home to one of the world's most multi-national football teams and he may well have run you out of town. The Mayor, along with the rest of Clarkston, was a baseball fan.
During the nineties, Clarkston was the site chosen by federal agencies to re-house the many dispossessed refugees arriving on American soil. Nowadays, this multi-ethnic hybrid bears little resemblance to the sleepy little town it once was: the High School has students from more than 50 countries, the local mosque draws more than 800 to Friday prayers, and the town's most famous sports team, The Fugees, is a motley collection of war torn children of 17 different nationalities.
In OUTCASTS UNITED, Warren St. John follows the exploits on and off the pitch of this young ramshackle team and their remarkable coach, Luma Mufleh, whose formidable leadership extends into the refugee community of which she has become an indispensable part. The refugees' stories here are often movingly painful - for many the world they left behind is only marginally more challenging than the poverty and discrimination they face in America - but what endures is their staunch determination to move forward and establish new lives, to rediscover community and a sense of purpose in the face of such impossible odds.
- Publication Date:
- 03 / 05 / 2010
- 130 x 197mm