Thanks for heroes | Jordanian melds many into one

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Luma Mufleh. Link to Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.Decatur, Georgia | In the first in a series of Thanksgiving-timed editorials on immigrant leaders in the Atlanta area—titled “New American Heroes”—the Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles Jordanian Luma Mufleh (see 6 April). Through soccer and the creation of a refugee-staffed cleaning service, Mufleh, 30, has helped give new arrivals to Atlanta a sense of belonging as well as practical resources toward learning English and navigating a foreign culture. She coaches three boys’ teams (“Fugees”) through the Decatur-DeKalb YMCA, with cultural preconceptions among the newcomers stifling her in starting a girls’ side. Higher-profile youth leagues that shunned Mufleh’s advances earlier now look to her rosters for talent.

Yet there are hurtful tales of racial slurs heard primarily outside metro Atlanta. “In North Georgia, I had a boy ask me what it felt like to coach a team of niggers,” Mufleh says. She replied: “How does your coach feel coaching a bunch of white kids who are sore losers?”

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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