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.