OUTCASTS UNITED: A refugee team, an American town

Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones — from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston’s streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colors playing soccer in any open space they could find. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to unify Clarkston’s refugee children. These kids named themselves the Fugees.

Set against the backdrop of an American town that without its consent had become a vast social experiment, Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents this diverse group of young people as they coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the center of the story is the fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the soccer field while holding together their lives — and the lives of their families — in the face of a series of daunting challenges.


Warren St. John is a New York Times reporter who has written for The New Yorker, The New York Observer, and Wired magazine. The story that his newest book “Outcasts United,” is based upon first appeared as a 2007 article for the New York Times. The book was published in April and has also been optioned for a motion picture by Universal Studios. St. John is also the author of the National Bestseller Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania, which explores the phenomenon of sports fandom and chronicles the season St. John spent following Alabama football fans. He lives in New York City.

VIDEO: Warren St. John hosts June 20 event to celebrate "Outcasts United"

YouTube video, June 2009 — To promote his June 20 event at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, New York Times reporter Warren St. John — author of the new book, “Outcasts United,” hired Inkandescent Public Relations to create a YouTube video. Our videographer Zach Starr shot the film on the roof of Warren’s NYC apartment building, and spliced in interesting clips. Watch the video here.

Read More


IN THE NEWS: Warren St. John featured on the Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Kojo Nnamdi Show, NPR, June 16, 2009 — On today’s NPR broadcast of the Kojo Nnamdi Show, New York Times reporter Warren St. John was interviewed by the popular radio host about his new book, Outcasts United.

“In the 1990s, the town of Clarkston, Georgia became an unlikely refugee resettlement center,” explained Kojo. “As scores of families from the world’s war zones descended on the town, one new arrival decided to create a youth soccer team to unite refugee children. Today we will hear the story of that team — dubbed the “Fugees” by its members — and how its members adapted to life in the U.S.”

Listen to the entire broadcast here: WAMU 88.5 FM, The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

Read More


IN THE NEWS: Warren St. John featured in The Times London

The Times London, June 11, 2009How football helped refugees in a US town is the focus of a June 11 article in The Times London.

Reporter Mike Atherton explains: “Shamsoun Dikori remembered the first time that he saw aircraft high above the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan. He thought that they were birds – until the bombs came raining down. Jihad followed the bombings; within two years about 200,000 people (20 per cent of the local population) had been killed and the survivors of the 50 or so ethnic groups that inhabited this fertile region had been displaced.”

“The remarkable story of this football family has now been told by Warren St John, a reporter from The New York Times who immersed himself in the immigrant footballing community of Clarkston. Like all good books about sport, this is about much more than sport. It is about how the inhabitants of Clarkston came to terms, or did not come to terms, with a decade during which their town changed beyond recognition; about how immigrants coped with the kind of upheaval most people cannot imagine, and about how sport helped, to a small extent, to ameliorate the process for both.”

Read More


EVENTS: Join “Outcasts United” author Warren St. John, the Futboleros, and the Chopteeth Afrofunk big band at the 9:30 Club on Saturday, June 20, 1-3pm

Washington DC, June 8, 2009 — If you love soccer, a great story, and believe in supporting kids with big dreams, mark your calendar for Saturday, June 20 from 1-3pm when New York Times reporter Warren St. John, author of “Outcasts United” (www.OutcastsUnited.com)— a book that is sure to be an educational and soccer classic — hosts a remarkable event at DC’s famous 9:30 Club (www.930.com).

In collaboration with the DC-based book event company, Hooks Book Events (www.hooksbookevents.com), the afternoon will be action-packed with great activities for kids including a juggling clinic with the Los Angeles-based soccer freestyle troupe, the Futboleros (www.fultboleros.us), a brief introduction by Warren St. John about “Outcasts United” (www.OutcastsUnited.com), followed by a performance by the wildly popular Afrofunk big band Chopteeth (www.Chopteeth.com).

Tickets are $10, and the proceeds benefit the Fugees soccer team (www.FugeesFamily.org), which the book features, explains St. John, who decided to set the event in DC because he wanted to celebrate with kids and adults are some of the biggest soccer fans in the country. “I love DC, and since Chopteeth is based here, it was an obvious selection.”

Read More