‘The downfall of a man is not the end of his life’: The intergenerational contract, shameand ‘sacked’ football academy players in Ghana

Katie/K Liston, Paul Darby, Nienke VanDer Meij

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The burgeoning number of football academies in Ghana are widely understood byyoung players (and their family members) as a direct conduit for transnationalmigration. Despite the expectation that their academy experience will lead to thecathedrals of European football or further afield, the reality for the vast majority isinvoluntary immobility (Carling, 2002). While there is a small literature on English andIrish football players who fail to ‘make the grade’ (Brown and Potrac, 2009; Woods,Buckley and Kirrane, 2004; and Kelly, 2014), the experiences of young African playerswho are unable to translate their academy training into a professional career overseas,has been neglected. While some have commented briefly on the future prospects ofthese players (Darby, Akindes and Kirwin, 2007; Maradas, 2001), there is a void in ourunderstanding of how they navigate their way through this process. This paper beginsto fill this void by focusing on the experiences of young Ghanaian players who wereunable to become transnationally mobile on conclusion of their academy training. Theseexperiences are positioned within the context of the intergenerational contract, apervasive social norm in Ghana that places expectations on young adults to reciprocatematerially to their household (Whitehead, Hashim and Iverson, 2007; Roth, 2008; Coe2011, 2012). Locating players’ involuntary immobility within familial expectations andreciprocity allows us to foreground the role that ‘shame’ (Fessler, 2004) plays inunderstanding how players experience, come to terms with and respond to this process.The paper is based on extensive field work in Ghana, totalling almost 12 months thatwas conducted between 2008 and 2013
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherNot applicable
Number of pages0
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Jun 2015
EventEuropean Association for Sociology of Sport Conference -
Duration: 12 Jun 2015 → …


ConferenceEuropean Association for Sociology of Sport Conference
Period12/06/15 → …


  • Ghana
  • intergenerational contract
  • football
  • migration
  • academy


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