Escape to victory: development, youth entrepreneurship and the migration of Ghanaian footballers

2015-08-03T10:34:57Z (GMT) by James Esson
This article contributes to contemporary debates over the resourcefulness and entrepreneurialism of young people in the Global South by exploring the relationship between development and the migration of male youth within the football industry. Drawing on fieldwork in Accra, the paper reveals how young Ghanaians attempt to enact development as freedom through spatial mobility. Significantly, this is coupled with an awareness that their desired spatial mobility is difficult to attain, thereby inducing a sense of involuntary immobility. For some male youth, the solution to this predicament is to invest in their sporting bodily capital and become Foucauldian 'entrepreneurs of self' in the form of a professional footballer. Meanwhile for others, the solution to prevailing economic pressures is to embrace financial risk by becoming entrepreneurs in the form of football club owners, and attempting to profit from the movement of players. The interests of these two sets of entrepreneurs coalesce around the fact that the mobility of footballers is crucial to generating a return on their respective investments. It is argued that the construction of young Ghanaians as responsible for their future life chances, and the growing dissonance between aspirations and the ability to migrate, is a key reason why youth are trying to migrate through football. Problematically, this can foster conditions favourable for irregular migration.