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You have to try your luck: male Ghanaian youth and the uncertainty of football migration

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2015, 13:14 by James EssonJames Esson
The migration of male African youth within the football industry, particularly cases involving human trafficking, has become a subject of academic and political interest. This article contributes to work on this topic and to literature on the agency of youth in the urban Global South by turning the academic gaze away from European actors and settings, and towards their African counterparts. Drawing upon research conducted in Ghana, the article reveals how youth perceive migration through football as a solution to the socio-­‐economic uncertainty and life constraints facing them in neoliberal Accra. This perception is tied to broader representations of spatial mobility as a precursor for social mobility. Youth attempt to achieve spatial mobility through football by ‘trying their luck’, a form of social navigation that is used to mediate the uncertainty associated with this strategy for realizing spatial change. Through illustrating why youth want to be spatially mobile and how they attempt to do so through football, this article demonstrates why studies of African football migration need to engage better with how conditions inside the football industry interact with those beyond it.


The ESRC [grant number ES/H011234/1] and UCL funded this doctoral research.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research


ESSON, J., 2015. You have to try your luck: male Ghanaian youth and the uncertainty of football migration. Environment and Planning A, 47 (6), pp.1383-1397.


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