This article examines the present-day perception among boys and young men in
West Africa that migration through football offers a way of achieving social standing
and improving their life chances. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among
footballers in urban southern Ghana between 2010 and 2016, we argue that young
people’s efforts to make it abroad and “become a somebody” through football is
not merely an individual fantasy; it is rather a social negotiation of hope to overcome
widespread social immobility in the region. It is this collective practice
among a large cohort of young males—realistic or not—which qualifies conceptualizations
of youth transitions such as waithood that dominate academic understanding
of African youth today.
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