March 2021

Last modified: 29.04.2020

New Book

'Race', Ethnicity and Racism in Sports Coaching  
(Routledge Critical Perspectives on Equality and Social Justice in Sport and Leisure)

Edited by Steven Bradbury, Jim Lusted and Jacco van Sterkenburg

In recent years there has been a steady increase in the racial and ethnic diversity of the playing workforce in 

many sports around the world. However, there has been a minimal throughput of racial and ethnic minorities into coaching and leadership positions. This book brings together leading researchers from around the world to examine key questions around ‘race’, ethnicity and racism in sports coaching. 

The book focuses specifically on the ways in which ‘race’, ethnicity and racism operate, and how they are experienced and addressed (or not) within the socio-cultural sphere of sports coaching. Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, it examines macro- (societal), meso- (organisational), and micro- (individual) level barriers to racial and ethnic diversity as well as the positive action initiatives designed to help overcome them. Featuring multi-disciplinary perspectives, the book is arranged into three thematic sections, addressing the central topics of representation and racialised barriers in sports coaching; racialised identities, diversity and intersectionality in sports coaching; and formalised racial equality interventions in sports coaching. 

Including case studies from across North America, Europe and Australasia, ‘Race’, Ethnicity and Racism in Sports Coaching is essential reading for students, academics and practitioners with a critical interest in the sociology of sport, sport coaching, sport management, sport development, and ‘race’ and ethnicity studies. 

More information can be found here:



Ernest Yeboah Acheampong, Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Sport (HPERS)

University of Education, Winneba, was interviewed for this Kenyan player story and this is the link:

Kenya’s Johanna Omolo: 'African footballers should stay in Africa' 


Later on, the story was further aired on DW News Africa about African footballers' migration and their giving back behaviours from his published book.


This is the book link:


Blog Entry

By Zora Saskova


Football, migration and ‘hustle’ in Sierra Leone

In this blog piece, Zora Saskova shares insights from her fieldwork in Sierra Leone undertaken as part of her PhD project at Ulster University, supervised by fellow sport migration network members, Paul Darby and Katie Liston.

West Africa is a well-established source of talent for the global football industry. The majority of its exports hail mainly from Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal. The fact that the other 11 countries in the region are not especially renowned as talent hotbeds, however, does little to deter young players from these locales from pursuing their dream of ‘making it’ as a professional footballer abroad.  How do they maintain the dream in the grimness of day-to-day survival?

Take Sierra Leone. The national team has never won a major football competition, qualified for the FIFA World Cup, nor produced many big-name football stars. Mohamed Kallon, the former Inter Milan striker, is perhaps the only name familiar to an international audience. Christened the ‘Wonder Boy’, following his goal against Congo in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, aged just 15, his success is attributed locally to talent, but also to hard work and luck. As Yeami, a Premier League player with experience of playing abroad, told me, ‘In his family, he was not the best footballer, but he was the luckiest’. Understanding Kallon’s career as a product of luck and hard work is inspirational for local players seeking to follow in his footsteps. 

Mustapha, 21 years old, is one such player. He moved to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, from one of the rural provinces and joined a club in the second tier of the local football league. He hoped to launch a career, ‘to find greener pastures and support the family in the future’. Reflecting on how his plans were working out, he admitted, ‘It's really painful, it's really hard when you are playing without no money. That means you are working without no salary’.

Unlike other West African countries, where some of the big European clubs maintain scouting networks, partner local clubs or set up academies, the possibilities of being recruited by an overseas club in Sierra Leone are extremely limited. The local game has been mostly dysfunctional since the country acquired its independence in 1961. Organised grassroots football is non-existent. The pitches are poor and equipment scarce. The majority of coaches are unqualified, or as Mussa Kallon, a former national coach puts it, ‘self-qualified’.

To compound the problem in Sierra Leone, when the Ebola epidemic hit in 2014, sport was prohibited as part of the emergency response. While this ban lasted for a year, the domestic league has not fully resumed. Internal political wrangles, conflicting personal interests, and issues between the local FA and the ministry of sport, saw the league suspended until February 2019. It restarted for a few months before being interrupted again due to COVID-19.

Despite this state of affairs, the country’s youth continue to invest their bodily capital and time in football and producing football-related mobility. When I asked Morris why his focus remains on football and how he has survived in such a precarious industry, he told me, ‘We have a musician here called Emmerson, saying that we in Sierra Leone, we live like magicians, so I can say it's something like that, we survive and even ourselves we don't know how’. My ethnographic research draws on anthropological and human geography research that has explored the informal livelihood strategies that young people in precarious environments pursue while trying to earn an income, chase their desired occupations. Thieme’s (2017) use of the concept of ‘hustle’ in her work on youth in Nairobi is instructive, in Sierra Leone the situation is more nuanced, especially for understanding why and how local youth engage with football.

In the local Krio vernacular, to hustle is known as 'to dreg'. As Hoffman (2011) aptly points out, to be a 'dregman'; ‘is to be on the move and on the lookout for new patrons and more profitable liaisons.... it evokes getting by through the collection of debts, the provision of favours, outsmarting or outrunning others for what one needs – a beg, borrow, or steal existence that is the face of ex-combatants from all factions’ (p.131).  Dregging, while risky, can enable one to progress through life. As with so much of life in the “informal sector, dregging carries a pejorative connotation, one that

many of the footballers I dealt with eschewed. For example, as Mustapha explained: After the training, I go home. But you have some other guys, from the field, they're roaming around. Some of them are doing that because of cost of living. From the field, roaming about to where you will get maybe 10,000 [leones] or 20,000 [leones], and they go back home. But as for me, I know that if you go to the street, you will not get. So, I decided to just stay at home... The only way, during the day, I go up to the field and immediately after training to my home. I rest. If I have food, ok. If I don't have, I stay. Maybe somebody will give me. 

If Mustapha does not see himself as a dreg man, how might we come to think of his struggles and aspirations in football? The notion of ‘straining’, the process of getting by through innovation and resilience while waiting for better opportunities, may offer insights. In their work on youth in Sierra Leone, Finn and Oldfield (2015: 39) describe straining as, ‘a type of work that is innovative and opportunistic, but also takes a toll on the people performing it’. People who dreg and strain actively seek out patrons or profitable opportunities in order to achieve upward social mobility. Most footballers see themselves as possessing a higher social status, and calling, than a street hustler operating on the margins of society, even though their everyday existence might be the same.  These footballers are “magicians” in that they conjure up a view of themselves as embarked on a journey to the professional game overseas, and then through  a performative, or ‘bluffing’ strategy strive to gain access to better opportunities and connections locally.



Conference Kjønnsforskning NÅ

We are asking you to submit abstracts for a panel on "Racialisation, colonisation and gender in Nordic Sports", at the conference Kjønnsforskning NÅ, 27-28 May 2021.Information and invitations can be found here:

Deadline for submission of abstracts for SPOMI members is 06 April 2021.


New members

Stanley Thangaraj -

Verena Lenneis -

Mário Borges -

Ryan Turcott -