Finding the Game by Gwendolyn Oxenham
Three Years, Twenty-five Countries, and the Search for Pickup Soccer

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Across two dozen countries—from back alleys to remote beaches to the roofs of skyscrapers—an eye-opening journey into the heart of soccer

Every country has a different term for it: In the United States it’s “pickup.”  In Trinidad it’s “taking a sweat.” In Brazil it’s “pelada” (literally “naked”).  It’s the other side of soccer, those spontaneous matches played away from the bright lights and manicured fields—the game for anyone, anywhere.

At sixteen, Gwendolyn Oxenham was the youngest Division I athlete in NCAA history, a starter and leading goal-scorer for Duke. At twenty, she graduated, the women’s professional soccer league folded, and her career was over. In Finding the Game, Oxenham, along with her boyfriend and two friends, chases the part of the game that outlasts a career. They bribe their way into a Bolivian prison, bet shillings on a game with moonshine brewers in Kenya, play with women in hijab on a court in Tehran—and discover what the world looks like when you wander down side streets, holding on to a ball.

An entertaining, heartfelt look at the soul of a sport and a thrilling travel narrative, this book is proof that on the field and in life, some things need no translation.


About Gwendolyn Oxenham

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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.
Published June 19, 2012 by St. Martin's Press. 301 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Action & Adventure. Non-fiction

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However, the author’s focus is fragmented: Is the book about soccer as it is played by passionate amateurs, or is it about Oxenham, a privileged young woman who couldn’t give up the game and constantly wrestled with the idea of playing professionally?

Jun 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Finding the Game: Three Years...

Publishers Weekly

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A former player at Duke University, Oxenham spent three years traveling the world with her boyfriend (who had also played soccer, at Notre Dame), his former Duke teammate, and her college filmmaking partner in the hopes of playing in and filming pickup soccer games in what would turn out to be 25...

May 21 2012 | Read Full Review of Finding the Game: Three Years...

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