Under the Lights and In the Dark (Paperback)
Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer
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Under the Lights and in the Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer takes an unprecedented look inside the lives of professional football players around the world – from precarious positions in underfunded teams and leagues, to sold-out stadiums and bright lights. Award-winning filmmaker and journalist Gwendolyn Oxenham tells the stories of the phenoms, underdogs, and nobodies – players willing to follow the game wherever it takes them.
Under the Lights and in the Dark takes us inside the world of women’s soccer, following players across the globe, from Portland Thorns star Allie Long, who trains in an underground men’s league in New York City; to English national Fara Williams, who hid her homelessness from her teammates while playing for the English national team. Oxenham takes us to Voronezh, Russia, where players battle more than just snowy pitches in pursuing their dream of playing pro, and to a refugee camp in Denmark, where Nadia Nadim, now a Danish international star, honed her skills after her family fled from the Taliban.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the sport or a die-hard fan, this is an inspiring book about stars’ beginnings and adventures, struggles and hardship, and, above all, the time-honored romance of the game.
“A terrific collection of stories of the adventures undertaken and the struggles faced by players around the world” – Guardian, selected for The best books on sport, 2017
“Oxenham is one of my favorite soccer writers; she connects on a deeply human level with the people who are the soul of the global game. I love this book.” – Grant Wahl, Sports Illustrated senior writer, Fox Sports TV
“The book’s true virtues are in its complexities and portrayals of the players whose lives are interesting both on and off the field … Oxenham understands a good sports story must work as a mirror to reflect the world around it. And, like Friday Night Lights or Seabiscuit, Under the Lights and In the Dark does just that … This work is truly a testament to women’s soccer and women in sports. It is also a fun story for both sports fans and plain old readers alike.” – Gretchen Lida, Washington Independent Review of Books
“What a fine thing that a superb writer has found these ‘untold stories’ … and remedied that situation.” – The Boston Globe, The best books of 2017
“The book, just like women’s soccer itself, is actually a tapestry of interwoven stories, all connected by different color threads to create one big, stunning masterpiece. And like a tapestry, Oxenham weaves the beauty of her storytelling with the bruteness of a slide tackle to make the book a must-read for any fan of the women’s game.” – Allison Lee, The Equalizer
“Gwendolyn is the master at finding incredible soccer stories. These are stories that need to be heard – told in a way that leaves you begging for more.” – Julie Foudy, ESPN, USWNT captain, two-time Olympic gold medalist & World Cup champion
“A startlingly good book. Oxenham is a marvelous observer. These are moving, uplifting stories from around the world – what top soccer is like when there’s no money or fame in it and you just do it for love.” – Simon Kuper, author of Soccernomics
“Twelve uplifting and incredible stories telling the risks and rewards of pursuing a career as a professional women’s football player. A fantastic collection of pieces that get to the heart of what some of the world’s best and most talented players have overcome — from homelessness to motherhood to homophobia, in order to play the game they love — often without the guarantee of fame and fortune should they succeed.” – The Athletic UK writers’ favourite football books
“The book, a blend of stand-up-and-cheer triumphs and bittersweet cautionary tales, is a revelation, and it is a must-read for anyone curious about not just women’s soccer, but the beautiful game.” – The Globe and Mail
“If you care one iota about women’s football, stop what you’re doing, order this book right now – both to understand the true state of the game and to support Oxenham in her work. This is an essential read.” – Men in Blazers podcast
“An eye-opening, cohesive collection of fascinating stories that will help bring women’s soccer to the next level. Appropriate for high school students, public libraries, and all readers interested in the future of the sport.” – Library Journal
“One of the most compelling sports books I have ever read" – Female Coaching Network
“Oxenham has a nice, inclusive, easy to understand writing style. The twelve-year-old girl reading this as part of her English homework will be as engrossed as the 60-year-old who never dreamt that these things could happen to a female soccer player. That’s a fantastic skill to have as a writer.” – Gorey Guardian