Team of Refugees Pays Savannah a Visit - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/27/07

Team of Refugees Pays Savannah a Visit

The Fugees during halftime of a soccer tournament The Fugees during halftime of a soccer tournament

A group of refugee children from as far away as Sudan, Congo and Bosnia have found homes in Clarkston, Georgia.

The one common bond they share is soccer but without a field to play on, where could they go?

Members of the Chatham County Soccer Complex opened their hearts and their fields to let their team play.

Amidst coach Luma screaming orders, parents cheering and referees making calls, there's a new soccer team in town.

"You have to watch them play. I can't tell you why they're so great in a word or an interview," said Luma.

Luma has been involved with soccer for a while. But she never knew what she was getting into nearly three years ago when she decide to coach a team of refugees.

"There were refugees in Clarkston. So I would drive around looking for kids who were the right size to play," said Luma.

Hours of scouting for the right players turned into interesting practices for the Fugees.

"A kid from Afghanistan playing a kid from Bosnia, getting that together wasn't easy," said Luma.

Luma had the kids to coach, all she needed was a field for them to play on in Clarkston Georgia. That's when she learned about the Savannah JCB Boys Rule Tournament.

"There all listed on a website, every tournament in the southeast was listed on this website," said Luma.

The only problem was the Fugees didn't have the money to sign up for the tournament.

"They've been talking about it since November and they worked hard to get here, doing a lot of car washes," said Luma.

All of this, just for a sport these kids truly love.

To some a soccer ball is just that, a ball, but Luma said this ball means more to her players.

"I think it's giving them a sense of hope, if they can do this together than maybe things will improve," said Luma.

"To know the countries these kids have come from and the wars they've escaped and to see them laughing, I wouldn't be laughing at all. I wouldn't be able to function," said Luma.

But these children are functioning well and enjoying their favorite pastime at the same time.

The Savannah JCB Boys Rule soccer tournament will continue through the weekend at Chatham County Soccer Complex.

Reported by: David Hall, dhall@wtoc.com

 

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