About the Book
In 2004, journalist and award-winning documentary maker Gwendolyn Oxenham played futebol feminino for Santos FC, Brazil. The team hitchhiked to practice, shared their field with a horse and wore hand-me- downs from the men's team.
If this was Brazil, the mecca of futebol, what did the women's game look like in other countries?
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.
Gwendolyn Oxenham is the author of Finding the Game: Three Years, Twenty-five Countries and the Search for Pickup Soccer (St Martin's Press) and the director of Pelada, an award-winning documentary. She has written for The Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, and Slate, and has an MFA in creative writing. A Duke University soccer alum who played for Santos FC in Brazil, she currently lives in Dana Point, California.
"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. Thank you, Gwen, for shining a light on the natural, raw, real beauty of the beautiful game." - Julie Foudy, ESPN, USWNT captain
“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.” - Washington Independent Review
"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
"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
“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
“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.”