Football Academies in Ghana
The research examines the role football academies play in Ghana, from the locals’ point of view. Most of the published research focuses mainly on international relationship aspects, such as immigration, exploitation and dependency (Bale 2004; Darby 2007; Poli 2006). It also seems that a “successful” academy is measured according to the number andor quality of players it “produces” and “exports”. As much as these studies are important for the understanding of various aspects relating to African studies, I argue that they provide a limited perspective since local communities are hardly examined. Therefore, my work presents a more diverse perspective that includes the thoughts of owners, coaches, children (boys and girls), parents and other locals surrounding the academies, such as sellers, fans, journalists, Football Association officials and scholars, an input which is missing in the current literature. Only recently has this approach received scholarly attention (Darby 2012:271), though not enough. My research presents a more holistic approach that sees the contribution of the football academies to the development of local communities, and not only to the individual, as an important parameter for determining the success of the academy.
The presentation will be based on recent findings from eight weeks of ethnographic field work I have conducted this summer in Ghana. During this time, I have visited nine football academies, from different types (Darby, Akindes and Kirwin 2007), and conducted over thirty interviews. Upon them, I argue that football academies have the ability to contribute to development in different areas, such as sports, gender, education, health, economic, social, and in different levels, individually, communally and nationally.
Unlike in the past, research and analysis of development in Africa emphasizes today the importance of using local knowledge as well as the participation of locals in assessing development programs (Grillo and Stirrat 1997; Mosse 2005). Furthermore, in the last two decades the notion that Sports and Development are connected has started to be published and examined also in relation to African issues (Levermore and Beacom 2009). My lecture will be based upon these insights as the theoretical framework.