The growth of girls’ and women’s football in Africa, coupled with increased professionalisation in Europe and the United States, has led to rising international migration of African female players.
This trend reflects the longer standing culture of independent, transnational migration among African women since the late 1980s and of enlarged possibilities and responsibilities triggered by neoliberal reform across the continent. This article explores how these sporting, cultural and economic transformations have coalesced to influence the aspirations and agency of female youth and young women in Ghana. To do so, we draw on original data from ethnographic fieldwork in Ghana, Sweden and Denmark undertaken between 2015 and 2021. Our findings reveal that for ambitious, talented female footballers, transnational football migration is increasingly viewed as a speculative route to improve ones’ life chances and negotiate intergenerational responsibilities to family. Significantly, the article also illustrates that in seeking to produce this highly prized form of migration, they must carefully navigate gendered social norms and hierarchies related to ‘respectable’ career and life trajectories. The conclusion proposes a critical research agenda to explore the interplay between sporting opportunities, migration aspirations and diverse socioeconomic conditions in Africa.
Keywords: African football migration, spatial and social mobility, youth aspirations, feminisation of migration, women’s football