ESSON, J., 2016. Football as a vehicle for development: lessons from male Ghanaian youth. IN: Ansell, N., Klocker, N. and Skelton, T. (eds.). Geographies of Global Issues: Change and Threat. Berlin: Springer, DOI: 10.1007/978-981-4585-95-8_32-1.
This chapter uses recent interest in the challenges male African youth face as they try to become professional footballers as a way to contribute to geographical research on the agency and resourcefulness of young people in the Global South. It does so by using football as a lens, and Ghana as a case study, to explore how processes at a variety of geographical scales are understood and put to use by male Ghanaian youth as part of entrepreneurial strategies to improve their life chances through football. The overarching argument is that contrary to the socialist early independence era, the Ghanaian football industry is now a hub of financial speculation centred on the export of young players to foreign leagues. Male Ghanaian youth are shown to influence the current state of play in two key ways. Some view owning an amateur football club and trading youth players on the international transfer market as an entrepreneurial venture. Meanwhile others are joining clubs to become Foucauldian ‘entrepreneurs of self’ in the form of a professional footballer. The strategies for life making these two sets of atypical entrepreneurs employ are shown to emerge from their engagement with wider social understandings of development as achievable through the deployment of individual autonomy.