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Finding the Game: Three Years, Twenty-five Countries, and the Search for Pickup Soccer Hardcover – June 19, 2012


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Finding the Game: Three Years, Twenty-five Countries, and the Search for Pickup Soccer + The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250002044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250002044
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #807,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Any reader inclined to enjoy energetic writing about soccer will love this book. But Oxenham has brought to this extraordinary project not only a player’s enthusiasm, but also a thoughtful writer’s sense of humor and eye for the magnificently unlikely moment that takes her endeavor beyond the game...Finding the Game suggests powerfully, if playfully, that we are connected. All of us. In that suggestion, there is hope....A joyous antidote to the newspaper's front page."  —NPR's Bill Littlefield, "Only a Game"

 

From Booklist

The youngest Division I athlete in NCAA history, Oxenham was a soccer star for Duke at age 16. By 23, she felt like a has-been, but she still loved to play. Her love of the sport in its least-official form, pickup games, birthed a documentary film project in which she, her boyfriend, and a crew of two traveled the globe looking for games. Their tenacity is remarkable. Despite financial and language barriers, they play with sheep-shearing gauchos in Uruguay, with hardened criminals in La Paz’s infamous San Pedro Prison, in an Arabs-against-Jews contest in Jerusalem, and with salarymen on a Tokyo rooftop. The most memorable sequences take place in the slums of Nairobi, where the poverty is overwhelming, and Tehran, where it’s illegal for women to play with men (she gets a game anyway). Oxenham avoids platitudes but gracefully shows how playing together can unite us more than shared worship of famous teams. Soccer fans will love this, but anyone who enjoys shoestring travelogues will like it, too. They’ll all want to watch the film, Pelada. —Keir Graff

 

“It's not just an adventure that all of us would have liked to have had. Oxenham can write, too. A brave account of soccer as a universal language.” —Simon Kuper, New York Times bestselling author of Soccernomics

“In Finding the Game, Oxenham goes on an international quest to document soccer as a pickup game that brings promise and joy in even the least promising and most joyless venues.  In the course of her travels, she proves beyond a doubt that sports is not only a pervasive second language in every culture, but also one she speaks with perfect fluency.  Her book is as charmingly observed as it is beautifully written.” —Madeleine Blais, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle

"Through soccer, Gwendolyn Oxenham discovers and delights in the gifts, on and off the field, that ‘the beautiful game’ can bring. As she says, ‘the best games are marked by a failure to refrain.’ So are the best stories. Hers is proof."  —Alexi Lalas, National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports

“I knew Gwendolyn Oxenham and her group had made a terrific documentary film, but it takes completely different skills to write a compelling book. She has achieved that feat here, fashioning a journey narrative about pickup soccer that’s filled with the details of a seasoned observer/adventurer. I enjoyed it from start to finish.” —Grant Wahl, New York Times Bestselling author of The Beckham Experiment

"Oxenham reintroduced me to some of the rules of soccer and life, that I had forgotten. When Oxenham wrote, 'You don't talk if no one's ever seen you play,' I immediately knew where she was coming from and headed. . . . An unparalleled journey that invokes more than just passion for soccer.” —Rob Stone, ESPN commentator

Finding the Game proves the reality of the phrase ‘Soccer is the world's game’ and shows that the idea of playing a sport for the joy of it still exists. Gwendolyn and her friends used their passion for soccer to meet people and visit places that would have been unimaginable to most of us.  Best of all, she allows the reader to become a part of the adventure.” —Chuck Korr, coauthor of More Than Just a Game

"The friends go to interesting places and play lots of futbol, but it is the people they meet—a superstar who just happens to be a tiny girl from a Brazilian slum; criminals in a Bolivian prison; Arabs and Jews who grudgingly play against one another in Jerusalem—that truly make the young travelers’ point that sometimes sport can be more than just a game....Imbued with both the spirit of youth and the wistful longing of past travels...a proud testament to her favorite game." —Publishers Weekly

“More than just a book about the sport, Finding the Game transports you around the world with humor, wit, and excitement on every page. You don’t have to be a sports fan to devour this book.” —Anson Dorrance, Head Coach, UNC Women’s Soccer; National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee

About the Author

GWENDOLYN OXENHAM received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame, where she was awarded the Nicholas Sparks post-graduate fellowship. A Duke University soccer alum, she played professionally for Santos FC in Brazil in 2005. She teaches English and plays in pickup games in Southern California.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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It goes into more detail and is a very good read.
Richard Kyle Selby
I felt the author did an extremely good job of captivating the reader and bringing us along on her journey around the world.
FootyPhotog
This book isn't just for soccer fans, but it's a must read for anyone who, like me, loves the game.
Mary P

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ForeverBuckeye on August 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first heard the premise of the film "Pelada", I was immediately jealous. Not just that two Americans around my age were traveling the world playing pick-up soccer, but moreso, I was jealous of their courageous spirit and sense of adventure. You see, I have always been a soccer person. I played soccer in college, have traveled to 3 World Cups, and worked on the business side of the sport in various ways for 7 years.

But never in my wildest dreams would I have come up with as crazy an idea as what Gwendolyn and Luke did...putting off career and stability to travel the world in search of the beautiful game, in parks, on rooftops, and around street corners. The good news is though, with both "Pelada" and now "Finding the Game", I didn't have to.

In "Finding the Game", Gwendolyn Oxenham brought me on their journey showing that a simple soccer ball can cross language barriers and create friendships with people you never would know otherwise...with bootleggers in the slums of Nairobi, hip hop artists in Marseille, and even prisoners in Bolivia. She made me want to go to these places and play soccer with these people.

Plus, the Ruud van Nistelrooy story is pretty awesome as well!

"Finding the Game" not only fills in the gaps of the movie "Pelada" (which is a must-see), but it stands on its own as incredibly well written and as great evidence of turning a dream into reality. I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book. I saw the Documentary, Pelada, that was also made about their journey first, and when I saw that Gwedolyn, the author, was also going to write a book on their adventure, I knew I'd have to try it. I am a big soccer fan, so in that aspect it drew me in. But you do not have to be a fan of soccer to enjoy this book. It is about a journey around the world, enjoying different cultures, meeting new people and having fun doing it.
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By jd on September 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this fun tale of a brave and fun journey connecting through soccer or football. The author has his. Some parts were wild. An easy relaxing book to enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I did not know what to expect when I started reading 'Finding the Game,' and it is a beautiful story about the beautiful game - a story not often told. I found myself in the places Ms. Oxenham was writing about, wishing I hadn't hung up my cleats so many years ago - a very nice job, and after finishing the book I immediately watched (pelada), and it was great being able to see what she wrote about. Outstanding!
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By Evelyn J. Boria on June 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I know nothing about soccer, but I thought this book was great. It is a well-written journey around the world that is nerve-wracking, exciting, and touching. It becomes much more than a search for pick-up soccer, though the game is revealing in each new locale. Highly recommend if you want to understand more about US limitations, soccer, and our place in the world.
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By jllawso on May 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Great book detailing an amazing journey through incredible places the rest of us will never get to see, all told through the lens of a game loved the world over. Fun yet insightful, definitely recommend.
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By :) on January 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I don't know a thing about soccer, but bought this book when it was recommended to me. The author has such a gift with words, and how she sees and describes her observations that I am in awe. This book is about so much more than the game of soccer. It is about sharing human bonds and experiences. It is about life and the extraordinary ways people rise above their situations. It is about people of all circumstances forming connections.
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This book is a must have for any soccer fan. It is the written story of the movie that they did called Pelada. It goes into more detail and is a very good read. If you have seen the movie you must read the book if you have read the book you HAVE to see the movie.
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