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Aspirations, experiences and trajectories

Africans have long graced football fields around the world. The success of icons such as Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and Mohamed Salah has fuelled the migratory projects of countless male youth across the African continent who dream of following in their footsteps. Using over a decade of ethnographic research, African Football Migration captures the historical, geographical and regulatory features of this migratory process. The book uncovers and traces the myriad actors, networks and institutions that impact the ability of children and youth across the continent to realise social mobility through football’s global production network. This sheds critical light on how young people are trying to negotiate contemporary barriers to social becoming erected by neoliberal capitalism. It also generates original interdisciplinary perspectives on the complex interplay between structural forces and human agency as young players navigate an industry rife with commercial speculation. A select few are fortunate enough to reach the elite levels of the game and build a successful career overseas. Significantly, the book vividly illustrates how for the vast majority, the outcome of ‘trying their luck’ through football is involuntary immobility in post-colonial Africa. These findings are complemented by rare empirical insights from transnational African migrants at the margins of the global football industry and those navigating precarious post-playing-career lives. In unpacking these issues, African Football Migration offers fresh perspectives on the transnational strategies deployed by youth and young men striving to improve their life chances, and the role that mobility – imagined and enacted – plays in these struggles.

Paul Darby, James Esson, and Christian Ungruhe

been violated. According to Retzinger ( 1991 ), these variations range from mild, transient embarrassment, to intense, long-lasting feelings of humiliation. The intensity and duration of this emotion among immobile players and the responses to it are intimately bound up with the intergenerational contract. To some extent, this reflects established conceptualisations of shame as arising from public exposure and disapproval of a misdemeanour or shortcoming alongside a more private response to a situation (Tangney and Dearing, 2003 ). Alongside personal disillusionment

in African football migration
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Bringing up children for a good future
Marianne Holm Pedersen

parents’ own backgrounds and values to their children. In a narrow sense, this was related to religious practices and interpretations of Islam. In a broader sense, transmitting one’s own background was also defined in terms of languages, cultural forms of interaction, etc. Hence, this chapter will show that we need to approach generational relations and the upbringing of children less as a specifically ethnic phenomenon and focus rather on what it entails to be a parent in general. The intergenerational contract and the raising of children Children represent continuity

in Iraqi women in Denmark
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Paul Darby, James Esson, and Christian Ungruhe

within the context of the intergenerational contract and familial expectations around reciprocity. This allowed us to foreground the overlooked role that ‘shame’ plays in understanding how players come to terms with and navigate their way through this ‘vital conjuncture’ in their lives (Johnson-Hanks, 2002 ). Exploring why and how African youth rationalise their entry into the game and their aspirations for spatial mobility through football enabled us to extend debates beyond the field of sports studies. One overarching and significant way in

in African football migration
Paul Darby, James Esson, and Christian Ungruhe

intergenerational contract (see chapters 5 and 6 ). Hence, whereas a player's successful transition to a respectable career and livelihood may secure social recognition at home, failure to do so can lead to downward social mobility. In this section, we explore how players navigate these transnational relations to meet their own and sustain others’ expectations of their lives after professional football. When eighteen-year-old Michael moved to a club in the Swedish Allsvenskan on a short-term loan, it raised high expectations with his

in African football migration
Paul Darby, James Esson, and Christian Ungruhe

). Beyond the role of spatial mobility in enabling individualised forms of social advancement, the migration of young people is often undergirded by the needs and aspirations of the family. In this, the cultural norm of an intergenerational contract becomes visible (Bleck and Lodermeier, 2020 ; Coe, 2012 ; Kabeer, 2000 ; Roth, 2008 ; Twum-Danso, 2009 ; Whitehead, Hashim and Iversen, 2007 ). This is a deeply embedded social norm that operates across West Africa and is rooted in the principles of reciprocity and entrustment. In Ghana, for example, in return for the

in African football migration
Paul Darby, James Esson, and Christian Ungruhe

second time, John seemed to have lost it all: status, means and prospects. Unable to meet the social and economic demands of an ‘intergenerational contract’ (Kabeer, 2000 ) or become a ‘social giver’ (Martin, Ungruhe and Häberlein, 2016 ), his football migration trajectory had failed both as a ‘household livelihood strategy’ (van der Meij and Darby, 2017 ) and as a vehicle for his individual ambitions of achieving social recognition and acceptable male adulthood (Ungruhe and Esson, 2017 ). Despite all of this, portraying John as entirely a

in African football migration