Children’s novel follows Syrian refugee playing soccer in Vancouver

In time for the start of the school year, Lorimer Books has released the fourth novel of its Soccer United series, Golden Game, on September 7.

Based on the characters from David Starr’s first book of the series, Golden Goal, the new story follows Abbas Wassef, a Syrian refugee who plays on his junior high school’s soccer team in Vancouver. After the team’s success in the district championship, which Starr’s first book explored, Wassef and the squad get to go to Toronto for a soccer tournament. There he meets and interacts with characters from the other Soccer United novels, Dirk McLean’s Team Fugee and Tournament Fugee.

While excited for the opportunity to go Ontario, the flight required to get to the tournament reminds him of the bombs which he witnessed falling from the sky in his war-torn home country.

“[The protagonists of] Golden Goal and Golden Game serve as role models for dealing with things like mental health and emotions,” says author Starr. “They have ‘stuff’ that gets in the way of them being successful, and they have to work their way through it.”

As an educator who has worked with the refugee community for many years and as an immigrant himself (moving from England to Canada as a child), Starr says it was a privilege to write stories that newcomers can relate to.

Further, he adds, “For Canadian-born students, I want them to read the book and walk away knowing that no matter where a person is from or whatever their background, the things that connect us, the things that make us similar, like soccer, are so much more important than the differences.”