The team that Coach Luma established in 2004 has grown to four teams, a tutoring program, an academy, an academic camp, and more. The Fugees Family is the only organization in Georgia that provides programming specifically for refugee boys. By tapping into soccer, the most popular sport in the world, the Fugees Family undertakes its mission to level the playing field and give our kids the same chance at being successful as everyone else's.
We have four select club teams; 86 refugee boys ages 11-18 attend twice-weekly practice sessions, play league games on weekends, and participate in tournaments.The Fugees Family is the only
organization in Georgia that provides programming specifically for
refugee children. Soccer draws these players together. Before they join the Fugees Family, they already love the game. It's the most popular sport in the world, and the fastest-growing youth sport in the country. On the field, the players experience the freedom, release, power, and sense of achievement that they do not experience in school. Soccer builds their confidence, and gives them the lift, the spirit, to persevere in their academics - long, slow work that does bring rewards, but not instantly. Our players are coaches and referees to the younger kids.Their enthusiasm for the game is what attracts the kids' participation, and, once involved, they are impelled to excel not only on the field but off it.
The World Cup, the most exciting event in professional soccer, happens every four years. The Fugees Family World Cup happens twice a year. It is a time when the players give back to their community. We set up mini-soccer fields at a local stadium and host a tournament for the elementary school kids in the neighborhood. The day is filled with soccer, soccer, and more soccer. Our boys are coaches and referees to the younger kids. They learn to be role models and to realize that for at least one day, it is not about them, but about all the little kids who show up to play.
In addition to soccer practice, the kids must attend after-school tutoring at least twice a week (more if they are struggling or they elect to go). They spend as much time in tutoring as they do in practice. There they get help with their homework, study for tests, play educational games, and engage in college and career research. If a student misses tutoring, then he or she misses playing in the game that week. If students do not show up, or if their grades fall, they know they will be held accountable. The standards are set very high and the kids live up to them.
36 boys and girls are currently enrolled in this
independent middle school. Seven full-time teachers provide
individualized curricula aimed to fill in gaps in their education and
help them perform at grade level.
We meet weekly with Fugees high school seniors to help them prepare for college. Sessions focus on SAT prep, college applications, and career exploration. We also arrange college visits for our high school students.
Last summer, we held a four-week day camp for the players to improve their academic ability, keep them connected to each other and the staff, and maintain their physical conditioning. The morning activities focused on reading and writing, and the afternoon sessions included art, science, math, and educational and recreational field trips. This summer, we will extend this program to six weeks and serve 60 Fugees, in partnership with Agnes Scott College.
Three summers ago, when the Fugees were looking for something to liven up their weekly scrimmages, Roohullah explained that when he played in the streets in Afghanistan, the victors would win a watermelon. Since then, our summer scrimmages have become the Watermelon Cup, where the winning team (we play 5 a side) gets to take home a watermelon. The Watermelon Cup is held three times a week, with over 80 kids coming out each time. These games keep the kids off the streets, allow them to play in a safe environment with their teammates, and of course feast on watermelons.