Monday, January 9, 2017

Transforming a community through youth football

For Christmas, my sister-in-law's family gave all the extended family a copy of the book, Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference, by Warren St. John.
Hopefully, we are going to have a book club about it.

The flavour of the book can be found in this 2007 New York Times article from which the book was developed.

The book is a gripping read. I was in tears (both sad and happy) a few times. It is quite moving and inspiring. But, at times I felt angry because of the lack of support and opposition the coach and refugees got. The book highlights a number of things.

The strengths of the USA: political and personal freedoms, immigration, diversity, and opportunities.

The weaknesses of the USA: racism, inequality (economic, social, educational), violence,...

Youth sport (when done appropriately) can teach important life skills (discipline, hard work, teamwork, self-control, dealing with disappointment, ...)

Refugees often face incredible odds to reach Western countries. When they arrive they may be traumatised. Adapting and surviving can be incredibly difficult.

Immigrant children are "third culture kids". They neither belong to their home culture nor to their new culture.

How important and challenging community development work is.

The value, importance, and demanding nature of high-quality journalism: "pounding the pavement" and talking to people at the grass roots.

The Western world is changing rapidly. Can it adapt?


  1. Just another (positive) example, because one has to stay positive in the face of reality.
    I recently heard a report on NPR about some students in Toledo Ohio who had taken in a 22 year old Syrian refugee - whose family (sister, parents), sadly, were still in a refugee camp in Jordan.

    I found the attitude of these students towards refugees and the current political climate here refreshing.
    This is a signature of the strength of America - despite the presence of weaknesses as you remark.

    Transcript and audio both available here:

    Googling for this link I also found other NPR stories from Toledo about this subject that I apparently had missed on air. One is here:

  2. good video about the Fugees