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One Goal A Coach, A Team and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together By Amy Bass

Release date: 09th March, 2018
Publisher: Hachette Books

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £16.99
You Save: £2 (10%)
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In addition to the agony and unimaginable sadness, a series of seemingly endless Middle Eastern wars and deep-rooted tribal disputes have created heart-rending television images of desperate people literally begging for a better life.

Meanwhile, a toxic combination of political revolution and endemic corruption across the Maghreb has had the same effect: inducing people to risk everything as they embark upon treacherous voyages in un-seaworthy vessels in the hope of reaching Europe. The cameras roll to record the outcome.

It’s a similar story in Myanmar where raw, religious hatred has resulted in an enforced population exodus of Biblical proportions.

We’ve grown so used to images of refugees on the evening news that we’re increasingly immune to their plight. Yet refugees who, having escaped the wretchedness of their homes, are often viewed with suspicion or barely-concealed dislike, usually because of their colour, religion, or even manner of dress.

Something akin to this happened in Lewiston, Maine, when thousands of Somali refugees settled in an overwhelmingly white, down-at-heel town where, initially at least, they were less than welcome.

Amy Bass tells the story of what happened next in her quite outstanding book One Goal, a tale of how effective sport, in this case football, (or ‘soccer’ as the book was first published for a US audience) can be in mending seriously damaged bridges.

Step forward the local school’s soccer coach, Mike McGraw, a man who “doesn't care where they're [his soccer players] from as long as they pass the ball." Following the arrival of dozens of refugee children at his school, McGraw suddenly has a large number of talented Somali soccer players who are adept at passing the ball. As he integrates this talent into his squad, so the form of his Lewiston Blue Devils takes a turn for the better.

McGraw’s efforts to unite his team gradually extends into Lewiston itself. Soccer – and the team’s unexpected success – succeeds in helping replace narrow-mindedness and overt racism with a stronger sense of community. The game doesn’t turn the town into a modern Utopia, but the Blue Devils’ performances help create a more fertile ground upon which people are more inclined to talk, integrate, share a sporting passion. McGraw’s assertion that his new players are seeds that can grow into something new for Lewiston is instrumental in helping to change deep-rooted attitudes.

One Goal is a book about hope: be it sporting, religious, cultural or political. Read it, because it might make you look at those television images of refugees a little differently.


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