Jordanian coach starts refugee soccer team

Luma and the team
I recently read a very inspiring article about a female Jordanian female coach who started a soccer team in Georgia in 2004 for refugees in the US. Dubbed "Fugees," the soccer team’s success story grabbed global interest. According to press reports, there are plans to turn the story of her and her soccer team into a movie. Here is an excerpt from a UNHCR article:

Luma Mufleh grew up in Jordan and emigrated to the United States to attend college. In 2004, she started the Fugees, a soccer team for refugee youth in Clarkston, a small town in the southern US state of Georgia. The town has become the home of many refugees resettled there after fleeing persecution in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burundi, Congo, Gambia, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan. Coaching for six seasons, she has brought together players from diverse backgrounds and worked to find support for her team. UNHCR’s pioneering ninemillion.org campaign, which promotes sport and education for refugee children, has been working with the Fugees for several months.

Here is another excerpt from a New York Times article.

Luma Mufleh, 31, says she was born to coach. She grew up in Amman, Jordan, in a Westernized family, and attended the American Community School, for American and European expatriates and a few well-to-do Jordanians. There, Muslim girls were free to play sports as boys did, and women were permitted to coach.

Her mentor was an American volleyball coach who demanded extreme loyalty and commitment. Ms. Mufleh picked up on a paradox. Though she claimed to dislike her coach, she wanted to play well for her. "For the majority of the time she coached me, I hated her," Ms. Mufleh said. "But she had our respect. Until then, I’d always played for me. I’d never played for a coach."

Ms. Mufleh attended college in the United States, in part because she felt women here had more opportunities. She went to Smith College, and after graduation moved to Atlanta. She soon found her first coaching job, as head of a 12-and-under girls soccer team through the local Y.M.C.A. On the field, Ms. Mufleh emulated her volleyball coach, an approach that did not always sit well with American parents. When she ordered her players to practice barefoot, to get a better feel for the soccer ball, a player’s mother objected on the grounds that her daughter could injure her toes. "This is how I run my practice," Ms. Mufleh told her. "If she’s not going to do it, she’s not going to play."

In this day and time, we need more Jordan-related stories like this and less like this one.

22 Comments

  1. طفيلي( ahmad) May 11, 2007 at 12:57 am

    Yes I agree with you she is doing great job for these kids. But I am wondering if the newspapers wanted to talks about her amazing job with kids or criticize her background as Muslim women. ! .

    I guess the film story will show how the Arabic culture deprives women from her rights and how American style provides her opportunity to prove her se..

    I quote from article There, Muslim girls were free to play sports as boys did, and women were permitted toto coach’
    That is lies .If I am not mistaken there are a lot of football teams and referee from women even in rural areas like

    Reply
  2. natasha May 11, 2007 at 6:16 am

    I hear ya Tafeeli. I also found it peculiar that the New York Times reporter was putting too much emphasis on her religious background rather than her achievement as a young woman.

    Reply
  3. kinzi May 11, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for high-lighting Luma’s achievements! Another Mufleh, blogger Khalidah’s sister, has been playing soccer for several years here – is she on the Jordan National Women’s Team? – but what makes her noteworthy is that she didn’t have the financially privileged upbringing Luma did and lived in an area outside of Amman. Still does, and she is still playing.

    Hey, are you going to blog about that interesting conversation you had recently? 😉

    Reply
  4. Hareega May 11, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I love it when women play real soccer, they can be too damn good. I hope more women in Jordan do like what Luma did, we have a promising women soccer team, we won Western Asia’s soccer championship. And hey, if women waring shorts play in Shobak I guarante we’ll have more than 200,000 fans gathering in a small stadium to support the teams 😉

    Reply
  5. طفيلي( ahmad) May 11, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    Well Hareega, You are talking about the people in Shobak as they are animal love to see women with sexy clothes .

    If you remember they were gunshots on girls’ accommodation in Husain University in maan city because they did not like to see places where the grils live alone!!!

    Do not try to make a jokes about your twon to show people you are funny!!!!

    Reply
  6. Denise May 13, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    I saw this story on ESPN (by accident, my son watches I happen to catch her name and was intriqued) and I think they are mentioning her religion to show that it does not limit a woman to do what she believes in as most media would have you believe about the muslim world. It is a start and it is great to see the story out there. I am of arab descent (my mother was born and raised in Jerusalem, she is Palestinian and Muslim) and firmly believe that until the women of the arab world come to the forefront socially, politically, religiously, etc. there will be no peace in the middle east. It is obvious that a male dominated society that has abused their religion to be male dominated has brought the region to near ruin and my cousins, aunts, friends there all believe that this will only change with equality to the women there. I was deeply moved by this story, her commitment, her belief in these kids from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and, just as important(!!!) a team of boys looking up to and respecting a woman…Look at what good getting this story out will do for everyone!

    Reply
  7. Arabi May 14, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Denise

    While, I agree with you that women in Islam should enjoy equal rights as men, I feel that you mixing apples with oranges.

    Please note that I come from a Christian Palestinian family born and raised in the Middle East and I assure you that in my social circle women enjoy their rights. Don’t make the assumption that Palestinians are all Muslims. Prior to 1947 35% of Palestine were Christians

    To blame the lack of peace in the middle east on what you are blaming it on lacks total logic. Maybe there is no peace because someone stole someone elses land? I think you need to study the history of the region a bit.

    In addition, the complete one sided stance taken by the US and the UK, and to a lessor extent by the EU is the core reason for lack of peace these days in the region. Remember that the gate to peace is Jerusalem, for the region and for the rest of the world in general.

    Lets stop trying to find excuses for lack of peace in our region. We are looking at the symptoms rather than the cause. Fanaticism, hate, violence are all symptoms. If you want to solve the problem solve address the cause root of the problem which is the illeagle occupation of our beloved Palestine.

    Just a thought!!!

    Reply
  8. طفيلي( ahmad) May 14, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Mr. Arabi, It is unfair to mix between religion and old traditions by saying women should enjoy rights as men in Islam.

    If I got time I could tell how Islam values women more than any nation on Earth I will give evidence about that, the last survey was conducted in Germany about number of converted people to Islam; they found more than 80% of them are women.

    The question here why have these women life western life to be Muslim and suffered from lack of equality between women and men in Islam according to your poster !!!!!

    I am not fan of debating to discuss which religion is the best …but it will be appreciated if we show some respect to other religions.

    Reply
  9. Hareega May 18, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Tafili… not only in Shobak, but also in Karak and Tafeeleh and Zarqa and Ghor and Irbid, there’s plenty of animals who will go crazy if they see women in sexy clothes

    Don’t be unrealsitic to try to show people we are civilized

    Reply
  10. طفيلي( ahmad) May 19, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Hareega,

    I am sorry to say what you mentioned untrue. There is a championship of women‘s football, basketball and swim take place in Jordan. Women players in court wear unacceptable clothes from Islamic point of view but few people who watch matches.

    Ok my friend, Tell me who don’t like to see women wearing sexy clothes. if you go to USA ,Uk , Africa ,and china …people there are attracted to these kind of women .

    I believe it is ashamed when you describe your father and tribe and cousins and friends are animals.

    Thanks

    Reply
  11. Hareega May 19, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Tafili, let any woman walk in shorts in ZArqa or Tafeeleh or Shobak and you’ll see how well is she treated!!

    I know girls who were stoned, yes STONED by 16 and 17-yr old kids in Shooneh just because they were walking there

    what were they wearing? Jeans and T-shirts. Five of them were muhajabat and one was not but was wearing a jeans….

    Reply
  12. طفيلي( ahmad) May 19, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Dear Hereege,

    We are debating about women wearing sport clothes like short or swimming suit .You said if there is match of women games take place in Shaboke 200000 fans would attend to see these women .I responded to you for that reason not about women walking in street .Am I right?!

    But that is normal for people who came from rural area to find women wearing shorts or jeans unacceptable. I have friend who live in small village in Greece, she did not take her boyfriend to see her family or stay with him in her village .Even she could not dare wear Miniskirt when she is there. She said , when they see women wearing short clothes in her village ,they think she is a prostitute Therefore The life in countryside is different from big city even in Europe

    In Jordan are component of tribes even Amman Capital ,We have Univeristies or shopping centers but we still We still have old tradition control our life like other rural area in world .
    Believe kids who stoned girls wearing jeans, i bet you if there were guy with blond hair they might have stoned him.

    But it does not mean we are manic about sex but we have got a good way to communicate with other cultures .

    Salam

    Reply
  13. طفيلي(ahmad) May 19, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Sorry

    i mean

    we have not got a good way to communicate with other cultures .

    Reply
  14. Hareega May 19, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    yes and those people in Greece were maniacs and retarded, but I’m talking about our people

    I’m all for traditions but it looks like men these days are much more perverted than they were 30 or 40 years ago.

    Reply
  15. طفيلي( ahmad) May 20, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    By the way, will you encourage your sisters or daughter to play football or basketballs in Jordan .I am not sure where are you from? i guess you are from Man . Please be honest with me do not give answer just to prove your point.

    And do males have right to be supervise their relatives from females ? why?

    Reply
  16. طفيلي( ahmad) May 20, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    By the way, will you encourage your sisters or daughter to play football or basketballs in Jordan .I am not sure where are you from? i guess you are from Maan . Please be honest with me do not give answer just to prove your point.

    And do males have right to supervise their relatives from females ? why?

    Reply
  17. Hareega May 21, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Yes I would encourage my sister to play football or basketball and I don’t care if what she wears for that because she’s wearing for a sport, but I know that if she’s going to a place where crazy maniac men are present I’ll encourage her to cover herself from head to toe to avoid harrasment.

    Regarding male “supervision” that’s not a bad idea in our society because it can mean protection, and women need protection in our society mainly from our society, but “supervision” unfortunately translates into domination and abuse to most guys.

    Reply
  18. طفيلي( ahmad) May 28, 2007 at 12:03 am

    I think it is ok that women exercise sport but they should take in their consideration Jordan is conservative country .They could play footballor other soprt inside closed places just for women with suitable clothes. Unfortunately that is not what is going on in Jordan. Thanks God 90% of Jordanian families do not send their girls to these kinds of sport institutes

    I do not want to find an excuse for any sexual harassment against women but there is crisis in Jordan or Arab world. Men and women can not afford marriage, it is so expansive .The poverty is going up .These things leas to disaster in community and youth can not be efficiency in the life

    When you accused our people behave as animals toward women, they might do that for many reasons .There is lack of religious education in Arab world special in Jordan people are scared to be labeled as extremist.

    Reply
  19. euroarabe May 30, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    she’s a high school friend…great person.

    Reply
  20. RC of strangeculture June 14, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    They are actually going to make this story into a movie…

    and from the sounds of it (and the amount network’s paid for the story) it should be a pretty well publicized story.

    I wrote some about the bidding war, etc. on my own blog as well as taking predictions as to who will play Luma.

    Reply
  21. Qwaider Planet August 18, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian Heroine in the States

    The lives of the young refugees of Clarkston , Georgia , have changed drastically since their first meeting

    Reply
  22. Adam Reads(Mr) October 31, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    This is to inform all Rugby and Volleyball players of the new club Offers About 720 Volleyballers and Rugby players are need or the next season across Europe and South America for both division two and division three respectively.Interested Volleyballers and Rugby players must be betwwen the ages of 16 and 35. Interested applicant must possess an International passport Interested applicant shall assume training assessment in the United State of America immediately after selection..

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    Tel:+44(0)702-404-2683
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    Thank you.

    Adam Reads(Mr)

    Assistant Director
    Standard Rugby & Volleyball International Agency

    Reply

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