Luck, sackings and involuntary immobility in football
in African football migration
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This chapter concentrates on how Ghanaian players experience youth football and academy life, and the strategies they deploy and resources they draw on as they work towards becoming a professional migrant footballer. It also examines how young players encounter, respond to and seek to overcome the inability to translate their considerable physical, emotional and financial investments into securing a playing contract abroad. The chapter illustrates how young people deploy unique forms of agency, like ‘trying your luck’, to realise their aspirations for and expectations of transnational migration. It also teases out the subjectivities that enable young people to remain resolute in the pursuit of their dreams, despite the empirical evidence around them pointing to the fact that for the vast majority of young players the likely outcome is involuntary immobility. One such form of evidence is being ‘sacked’ and or released from an academy before securing terms with a foreign club. This moment is argued to constitute a ‘vital conjuncture’ in the lives of players, one marked by ‘shame’ but also resourcefulness as players come to terms with and try to navigate their way through involuntary immobility’. The chapter therefore provides a critical reflection on an overlooked issue in scholarship on African football migration: namely, the emotional dimension of trying to migrate and ‘become a somebody’ through football.

African football migration

Aspirations, experiences and trajectories

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