December 12, 2018


As U.S. cuts refugee numbers, African teens find brotherhood on a Texas soccer team (Monica Rhor, 12/06/18, USA TODAY)

 The boys in royal blue huddled in the middle of a soccer field, arms locked, heads bowed, their lucky hot pink socks a sharp contrast to the browning grass and storm-threatening sky striated with slate and gray. 

In few minutes, the reVision Football Club would play their final match of the fall season. If they won, they would qualify for a state soccer cup for the first time by beating last year's champions.

They would defy the odds - as they have been doing all their lives.

Most of the teenage players were born in refugee camps in Africa and arrived in this country with nothing, save a few phrases in English - "Hello" "How are you?" "Where is the food?" - and the yearning for a better life.

Here, they encountered a different kind of struggle: New languages and unfamiliar cultures, classrooms where they are bullied for their accent and skin color, hardscrabble apartment complexes where street gangs fish for fresh recruits - and now, a president who has made it clear that refugees are no longer welcome.

But one thing has remained constant. From Africa to America, they have found ways to keep playing soccer.

In the beautiful game, they discovered strength and self-confidence. In this team, which came together almost by accident, they forged a brotherhood. In their stories, they offer a glimpse into the challenges confronted by refugee children - who, in 2016, made up about 44 percent of those resettled in this country.

Posted by at December 12, 2018 6:37 PM