- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Printing edition (June 19, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250002044
- ISBN-13: 978-1250002044
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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“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"
“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, Booklist
“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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I went into both works with the benefit of loving soccer. But an appreciation of the sport isn’t a perquisite for being both entertained and enlightened by Oxenham’s adventures traveling the globe with her friends and finding those spaces where life happens beyond our awareness. While, ostensibly, they were searching for a ball being kicked around outside of the stadium lights or the reach of organized activity, what they found were hopes and joys, often in places where hopes and joys seem to be in short supply. While Oxenham’s account opened my eyes to some of life’s inequities, it didn’t leave me feeling sorry for her subjects. She captured the beauty in their lives as well. It takes a very good writer to interpret and present the emotions of everyday life, both the writer’s own and those of the people she encounters. I imagine doing so in an unfamiliar culture makes this even more challenging. Oxenham was able to do so in the process of telling a wonderful story.
I really loved reading this.
If you are a lover of the beautiful game and looking for a great soccer book, this is for you. If you are someone that loves to travel and gets inspiration to travel from reading of other's journey, this book is for you. If you are just someone who enjoys a good read, this book is for you!
If you have watched the movie Pelada this is a MUST read. The book contains so much more than the movie and really provides a lot of insight to their journey.
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!
While the book provides as an excellent postscript to the film "Pelada" (an absolute must-see), it can be enjoyed independently as well. Each chapter provides new stories, games, experiences and people which draw in the reader; generating a deep interest and compassion for the individuals who love the game. The author's journeys, physical and emotional, are captivating and motivating: chasing the game and fully exploring its meaning to so many people all over the world while evaluating what impact those stories have on the author's emotions. The script is smart and inspiring-challenging the reader to look within and connect with their passions.
I highly recommend this book for soccer lovers, travel enthusiasts, people interested in learning about other cultures and, perhaps most of all, those looking for inspiration. An outstanding read!
I really enjoyed Pelada the movie and I hope there is a directors cut with all the countries that got taken out of the movie.
This book is really well done. I enjoy the author's telling of the story and I admire her and her partners for having the get-up-and-go to make it happen. I read this in two nights and highly recommend it.
If they are ever up near San Francisco and are looking for a game, I hope they get in touch.