Coach Luma Mufleh
We all have experiences that shape our lives forever. For Coach Luma Mufleh, that experience came when she was driving through the diverse community of Clarkston, Georgia, and saw a group of refugee boys from war-torn countries playing soccer barefoot with a tattered ball and rocks as goal posts. The sight reminded her of how she grew up playing soccer in her birth country Jordan. Inspired, she decided to volunteer and organize the boys into a soccer team she called the Fugees, short for Refugees, which was no easy task. At first, she encountered strong resistance from the town, which was not initially welcoming and denied her request to use public playing fields for practice.
Coach Mufleh didn’t realize how bad things were for the Fugees and their families until the day she escorted a child home to find a house barren of food and the child’s overworked, underpaid mother nearing the edge of her sanity. The experience made Luma feel helpless. Here, under her nose, she had found an entire community of people who were barely scraping by. Coach Mufleh had found she was needed and decided to make advocacy for the refugees her life’s mission.
As a Jordanian living in the south, Coach Mufleh understood what it was like for her Fugee players and their families to be outsiders so far from home. She also understood the educational challenges facing these kids from foreign lands, many of whom spoke little English, and began tutoring the boys after school. She soon took her commitment to the next level, launching a private nonprofit school called the Fugee Family Academy to help them to acquire the social and academic skills necessary to succeed.
Thanks to Coach Mufleh’s ongoing efforts, Clarkston eventually embraced the Fugees and their families. Under her direction, the Fugees became an inspirational model for overcoming prejudice in one of the most diverse communities in the United States. What Coach Mufleh started as a way to provide refugee boys with free access to organized soccer has transformed a town into a more tolerant and accepting community.
To learn more about Coach Luma Mufleh and the Fugees Family, please visit www.fugeesfamily.org