Within mainstream migration studies, there is a voluminous literature on migration development interactions and outcomes (cf. De Haas, 2010). As this Handbook reveals, there is also a significant and growing body of research on the relationships between sport and development. Falling between these two canons of academic work is a smaller literature which has explored the intersections between sports migration and development in the global South (Bale, 2004; Darby, 2000; Esson, 2015a; Klein, 2014). Much of this work has focused on football migration from the African continent, particularly West Africa, and has acknowledged that football academies, defined as facilities or coaching programs designed to produce talent predominantly for export, are pivotal in this process (Darby, Akindes and Kirwin, 2007).
Recent scholarship has shown how aspirations to migrate and the academies that seek to facilitate this articulate with varying forms of social and economic development in complex ways, and produce more heterogeneous outcomes than were previously observed (Darby, 2013a; Dubinsky and Schler, 2017). This chapter explores these articulations in relation to football in Africa, predominantly Ghana where academies have become increasingly visible. While African football is the focus of this chapter, this discussion speaks to wider debates on the migration development nexus in the context of sport, namely the tension between sport development, the commodification of sporting talent, and aspirations to develop an individual through sport and thereby enact wider social development.


Darby, P, Esson, J, & Ungruhe, C. (2018). Africa: SDP and Sports Academies. In Routledge Handbook of Sport for Development and Peace (pp. 419–429). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/126950