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Learning to Kick: African Soccer Schools as Carriers of Development

Kate Manzo Bio
University of Newcastle

Abstract

This article uses contrasting examples from Senegal and Kenya to critically examine the idea of African soccer schools as development organisations. While the first part does this by situating the two case studies in the policy context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the second part places sport, education, gender and development within the context of development theory. The analysis as a whole contributes to wider arguments about the limits of current MDGs. It also suggests that if the aim of development is communal rather than personal (i.e. some form of collective development as opposed to individual modernisation) then holistic and multifaceted programmes appear to promise most.

 

The project started taking shape: ‘Turning passion for football into an educational mainspring. Building a school for champions – a school which would also form men and contribute to the education of children, to the development of countries and the African continent.’[1]

Over the years MYSA [Mathare Youth Sports Association] has grown into a large, self-sustaining development organization that operates – in addition to an extensive football program – an HIV/AIDS education program, a photography project, an educational scholarship program, and numerous other community service and environmental education projects. Incorporating girls into its program has helped to validate MYSA as an association of all young people – not just boys.
[2]

Introduction

Opened in Senegal in 2003, the Diambars Academy was the brainchild of professional footballers wanting to “give something back” to their native countries.[3] Also registered as a charitable trust (the Diambars Institute) in France , the UK and Senegal , Diambars is but one example of an African institution combining education with soccer training. The Abidjan Academy, founded in 1993 by another professional footballer, has been hailed as the “front-runner among a clutch of soccer schools which have sprung up around Africa over the past decade.”[4] But if the concept of ‘schools without borders’ has any meaning then MYSA (Mathare Youth Sports Association) – the organisation founded in 1987 by a Canadian development worker - is an even earlier prototype.[5]

In demonstrating various linkages between sport, education, gender and development, the opening quotes suggest that African soccer schools are more than merely football training academies and/or magnets for European agents and scouts attracted to Africa since Cameroon ’s creditable performance in the 1990 World Cup.[6] Very different prototypes are being touted as vehicles for development and not merely as centres for sporting excellence. The aim of this paper is to assess such claims in light of two other bodies of work. One is a previous study of MYSA, which locates it firmly within the context of Western aid and development projects and simply examines it as another non-governmental organisation (NGO).[7]  In stark contrast are studies of African football academies, which analyse them in terms of broader patterns of labour migration. Far from contributing to the socio-economic development of African countries, the global trade in African footballers is understood as a facilitator of the reproduction of neo-colonial patterns of underdevelopment, impoverishment, and exploitation.[8] Without denying the differences between the case studies or discrediting the validity of the neo-colonial concept, the paper argues for understanding African soccer schools as carriers of development in a global rather than a national sense. The first part does this by situating sport and education within the context of colonial ideology and development theory. The aim is to illustrate the tenacity and endurance of colonial thought, especially the missionary linkage between ‘morals and muscles’ explored elsewhere in depth.[9]  At the same time, part one reveals the salience of more recent development models – especially theories of modernisation and community development.

Part two shifts the focus to more contemporary development practice and the changing agendas of major development institutions and donors. Instead of colonialism, modernisation and community development, the overarching conceptual frameworks here are neo-liberalism and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Migration is a relevant sub-theme, but given the existing studies of African footballer migration I emphasise instead the ‘three Ps’ of neo-liberal development discourse, namely privatisation, partnership and participation. The extent to which Diambars and MYSA operate, to varying degrees, within a neo-liberal development logic raises larger questions about the role of non-state actors in international development and change.

In conclusion, the paper suggests that the study of African soccer schools teaches important lessons about theories and practices of international development, rather than (more narrowly) about trends within Africa per se.

Sport, Education and Development Theory

The school in developing countries, for all its presumed defects, is surely one of the most powerful means of inculcating modern attitudes, values, and behaviour.[10]  

Sport is pursued and valued not only as an end in itself, but also because it represents a complex of meanings in connection with modernity.
[11]

What, where and how children learn has long been considered as important to development as mere enrolment in school. The above quotes demonstrate that schools and sport have both been seen (separately if not together) as carriers of a particular kind of post-colonial development, namely modernisation. Earlier studies of football in Africa show how clearly the ‘morals and muscles’ discourse of Western missionaries linked sport and education for boys to wider development agendas. The remainder of part one compares Diambars and MYSA against that colonial backdrop, in order to situate the two organisations within wider patterns of continuity and change.

Colonialism, sport and modernisation

That football in Africa is a legacy of European colonialism is undeniable.[12] The association’s ambition is to give concrete meaning to the motto “a healthy mind in a healthy body”, by harmoniously combining sports and professional training within an ethical framework that aims to cultivate jointly effort, work and necessary discipline.[13]

A focus on discipline and abiding by the social rules within the MYSA system is evident in MYSA’s Fairplay Code.[14]  

Colonial powers well understood the significance of sport as a tool of development in Africa. As the popularity of soccer grew, missionaries were quick to view the imported pastime as a “potential recruitment mechanism for the mission schools.”[15]  Throughout the continent, “the fledgling European sports traditions were taught to young African males by Western missionaries, teachers, soldiers, administrators and businessmen.”[16]  There was thus a gendered dimension to colonial teaching from the very beginning, with the education of girls through sport (and thus the wider contribution of women to development) implicitly if not explicitly discounted.

As African colonies began to experience mass migration and urbanisation at the turn of the twentieth century, English philosophies of ‘rational recreation’ and ‘muscular Christianity’ gained ever greater currency among colonial administrators.[17]  Sporting drills, exercises and games became further valued as means to “instil discipline and order” in a fledgling working class and offset both idleness and potential unrest.[18]  The model (in francophone Africa too) was the English public school system. Colonial administrators and educators promoted physical education and fitness as means to channel aggression, effect personality change and instil Western moral values.[19]  

Against this colonial backdrop, it can be seen that the Diambars aim to develop not only the ball skills of individuals but also the value of fair play and the character traits of “integrity, seriousness, discipline and open-mindedness” is far from novel or recent.[20] There are further echoes of colonialism in MYSA’s objectives for its members both on and off the pitch. In terms of play, it’s Fairplay Code “reads like disciplinary rules generated by the British public school system.”[21] Beyond the field, MYSA aims to “change the youth lifestyle to righteous behaviours” and, more specifically, to “eradicate idleness in girls.”[22] The colonial association of idleness with the vice (or sin) of sloth turned it into a form of moral turpitude, the antidote to which was to be ‘native’ development via commodity production and forced labour.[23]  

Despite these continuities the connection between colonial ideology and contemporary soccer schools is not entirely straightforward. The mere fact that MYSA ceased to be for boys alone within five years of its founding constitutes a meaningful break from colonial assumptions and practice. It’s also significant that MYSA girls themselves do not seem to understand ‘idleness’ in the same way as colonial powers. What the term connotes to them is not the presence of laziness but the absence of interesting or meaningful activity. MYSA girls have thus described themselves as ‘idle’ even when performing menial domestic tasks.[24] Equally importantly, colonial thought has been filtered through more contemporary theories of modernisation. According to Laura Fair, the philosophy that guided the rational recreation movement in England was the conviction that “the new values necessary for industrial life could be subconsciously developed within the working classes by reforming leisure, including sport.” An example of such reform was the introduction of “clock-measured time” into football matches and cricket. The wider purpose of respect for the clock was industrial efficiency. It was meant to teach the nascent working class “to ‘make the most’ of their time, as well as the necessary discipline of being on time.”[25]

At the heart of that age-old development philosophy was faith in a positive two-way relationship between industrialisation and recreation, economy and culture, and society and man. It was already evident during colonial times that imported norms and values were adapted as well as adopted by the colonised.[26] The fact that football became a site for political resistance and nationalist aspirations as it diffused downwards to the industrial proletariat[27] was a sure indication of the uneven global spread of modernisation during the colonial age.

And yet, at the heart of more recent modernisation theory is an enduring belief in the co-dependence of ‘modern’ institutions and individuals. Sport systems, bureaucracies, schools and factories have all been conceived as carriers of modernity, effecting personal development “through a number of processes other than formal instruction in academic subjects.”[28]  In modernisation theory, social transformation still comes from individuals acquiring new concepts of time (symbolised by the stopwatch and the wrist watch) and from learning to live by standardised practices and impersonal rules.[29]  African soccer schools can thus be seen as carriers of a particular type of development, namely modernisation, to the extent that they understand themselves as carriers of modernity and inculcators of modern attitudes, values and behaviour. This doesn’t mean, however, that schools such as Diambars and MYSA necessarily aspire to the reproduction of Western societies in Africa – a goal for which classical modernisation theory has been much maligned.[30] Diambars’ primary aim is the realisation by its graduates of a specific sporting dream, that of “securing a lucrative contract with a top European club – like the founding members of Diambars.”[31]  This is development as globalisation, through skilled labour migration or (as neo-colonial thinking suggests) through the facilitation of cheap labour exports.[32] MYSA is different because migration doesn’t enter the frame. The extent to which this difference is due to contrasting development theory and organisational orientation (especially the outreach to girls) is explored in the following section.

Gender, sport and community development

Engaging and retaining adolescent girls in sports programs is a challenge everywhere, and perhaps even more so in settings where doing so tests social norms.[33]  

A registered NGO since 1988, MYSA started a year earlier as “a small self-help organisation that would provide a sports outlet for the young boys of the Mathare slums while at the same time improving the environment.” [34] Mathare is one of many ‘informal settlements’ in Nairobi that are not officially recognised and are thus ill-served by many public services. Founder Bob Munro was originally motivated by a “charitable instinct.”[35] His initial aim was simply to organise boys into soccer teams and leagues in exchange for refuse collection. However, the creative linkage of sport and environment soon earned an award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Not surprisingly, UNEP is now a partner of MYSA along with various national development agencies, charitable foundations like Ford and Stromme, and multinational corporations such as KLM.[36]  

The concepts of self-reliance and empowerment are integral to community development as an NGO model.[37] The idea of MYSA as a carrier of this type of development is therefore implicit in organisational writings emphasising youth self-help, gender equality and gender development.[38] More explicit references to community and/or social development (including democratisation or political development) come from various commentators, academic and otherwise.[39]

While paths to community development may be most clear through MYSA’s health and environment programmes (i.e. HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns and slum clean-up), evidence also points to the transformative capacity of female participation in sport. Girls as well as boys benefit directly from heightened self-esteem and greater involvement in community life.[40]  Furthermore, “social visibility and access to public space” is enhanced by competition, because travel to soccer matches is incompatible with the domestic confinement of girls - whether to guarantee their safety or service. [41]

The MYSA example begs the question of how – given dominant African gender roles and perceptions of sport as an exclusively male domain – the incorporation of girls into soccer has been possible at all. Modernisation theory suggests a need for ‘modern’ men (be it MYSA staff or soccer-playing boys) to set the ball rolling. However, an alternative hypothesis points less to enlightened males and more to the nature of MYSA programming as an agent of change.

Parental and community support for girls’ soccer has hailed from evidence of benefits to the community as a whole. Most crucial, in this regard, are the links between sport and the environment (the requirement of MYSA members to perform community service) and between sport and education (notably MYSA’s scholarship programme). In a context where many vulnerable young women “exchange sex for money” and have higher rates of HIV infection than boys, [42] the payment of school fees may be the most effective scheme of all as it links gender to education and health.

The issue of how and why such linkages are also being made internationally by development institutions and donors is the focus of the second part of the paper.

Neo-liberalism and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Millennium Development Goals flow from the Millennium Declaration, which was signed by 189 countries in the year 2000, and they include eight goals and 18 targets, and they aim at the reduction of poverty and other forms of human deprivation in the developing world.[43]  

Two of the goals are intended to place girls in the driver’s seat of their own destinies. The first is to get them into the classroom; the second is to secure access to higher education, followed by entry into and promotion within the labour market.[44]

Education is development. It creates choices and opportunities for people, reduces the twin burdens of poverty and diseases, and gives a stronger voice in society. For nations it creates a dynamic workforce and well-informed citizens able to compete and cooperate globally – opening doors to economic and social prosperity.[45]   

The above three quotes – all from sources at the World Bank in the same year – capture the main dimensions of the MDG agenda. As demonstrated by the first quote (from the lead author of the World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report), poverty alleviation remains a central objective. Indeed, this was the original aim of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, which pledged to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women, and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty.”[46]  

There are now eight MDGs. These are: poverty and hunger alleviation; universal primary education; gender equality and women’s empowerment; reduced child mortality; improved maternal health; combat of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; environmental sustainability; and global partnerships for development. While all MDGs are arguably anti-poverty oriented, it’s clear that some are designed to be means as well as ends. The last goal is a case in point. Within the context of the MDGs, “develop a global partnership for development” means expansion in two areas: growth in official development assistance (to provide the necessary funding to achieve the other goals); and expanded market access for majority world exports.[47]  It’s also evident from the second and third quotes above that some goals “cut across the whole gamut of development.”[48] The education of girls is about human development via gender equality and the empowerment of women while universal education is a means to both human development via political empowerment (voice) and national development via economic competitiveness and prosperity. In a nutshell then, education is designed to serve many masters - ends that are economic, political and national as well as individual and social.

The ‘all things to all people’ character of many (if not all) MDGs is arguably what enabled countries to sign the Millennium Declaration in the first place. The broader developmental context of that declaration must also be understood if subsequent discussion of soccer schools is to make sense. Along with a new rights-based approach to development that I have analysed elsewhere,[49] the MDGs emerged at a time of widespread challenges to the neo-liberal (essentially capitalist) agenda of market-based economics and state restructuring. The liberalisation, privatisation and rationalisation elements of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) in Africa came under particular fire for facilitating poverty and widening patterns of uneven development.

A series of speeches by World Bank President James Wolfensohn in the late 1990s acknowledged the limits of the Bank’s previous approach to development and fuelled expectations of substantive change. The promised conceptual revision was the proposed Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF), where Wolfensohn asked for a “broader approach to partnership and to management of the development process.” His vision was of a development regime managed consensually by an alliance of governments, donors, the private sector (both domestic and foreign), and “civil society in all its forms.”[50] At no time, therefore, did the CDF ever constitute a paradigmatic alternative to structural adjustment in the sense of abandoning its central elements. Privatisation, the continued rationalisation (i.e. withering away) of African states, and the empowerment of non-state actors such as corporate enterprises and NGOs, remained central goals of the development game.

The MDGs – along with greater public participation via civil society involvement - were arguably the glue that was supposed to hold any international development partnership together. But a consensus on ends was never going to guarantee a consensus on means. And when set in the context of single-issue initiatives, it’s evident that international goals both unite and divide. The 1990 conference on Education for All (EFA) pledged to work for universal primary education by the year 2000. As the new millennium approached and progress appeared slow, Oxfam and other NGOs attempted to pressure the EFA Forum for a concrete plan of action by launching a Global Campaign for Education.[51] A year later, “189 countries and their partners” (i.e. organisations such as the World Bank and UNESCO) reaffirmed their commitment to the EFA at a world forum held in Dakar, Senegal .[52] Oxfam Great Britain resigned from the organising committee of the Dakar EFA Forum “in protest at what it saw as its failure to mobilise international funding and lack of coherent education targets.”[53] Since then, the Overseas Development Institute has noted “an upsurge of purposeful activity” among donors such as the World Bank aimed at “hastening progress towards the education MDG target.”[54] A key example of all this is the formation of a new global partnership called the Fast Track Initiative (FTI), which was launched in 2002 “to coordinate education donations and technical support for poor countries that develop plans to strengthen their education systems.”[55]

Such initiatives haven’t halted the critical questions. The extent to which “quality education” is a human right that ought to be provided for free is an issue raised, for example, by the aforementioned NGO campaign.[56] (2000). A related question concerns the sources and funding of educational provision. An academic comparison of private schools in India and Africa (specifically Ghana , Nigeria , and Kenya ) shows that “the majority of poor school children attend private unaided schools, which generally perform better [in terms of gender equity and scholastic achievement] than government schools, at between half and a quarter of the cost.”[57] Since part of the income received from paying pupils is used effectively to support scholarships for the least well-off, poor families (rather than the African state or any global partnership for development) are clearly making major contributions to the education agenda. While this offers yet another example of the logic of self-help, it also suggests that expansion of scholarships would be a positive way forward.[58] As for the entirety of the MDG agenda, it’s already been labelled “a donor-driven academic exercise” that leaves countries unaccountable and local governments “blissfully unaware of these goals.”[59] Further questions circulate about progress and achievement[60] and about the efficacy of partnership as an alternative to state-led development.[61] With those critiques in mind, the remainder of the paper assesses African soccer schools in relation to contemporary development principles. The next section reviews some comparative data on Kenya and Senegal in order to set MYSA and Diambars in their respective national contexts as well as to expose the limits of dominant indicators of development. The subsequent section looks more closely at Diambars and MYSA in those terms.

Development indicators and the MDGs

The cognitive skills acquired in secondary schools are vital to developing countries as they adapt to respond better to the challenges of the global economy. It is usually therefore inappropriate to diminish the budget for secondary education in order to pay for more primary education (Overseas Development Institute.[62]

As international donors and MDG promoters, the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) clearly consider progress on education a crucial measure of development in general and human development in particular. Adult literacy rate is one of the World Bank’s “key indicators of development” along with population, gross national income and domestic product, life expectancy at birth, infant mortality rate and carbon dioxide emissions.[63] Education (“knowledge”) also features in the UNDP’s human development index ( HDI); in its gender-related development index ( GDI); and in separate indicators of gender equality and public commitment to education. [64]

The following three tables contain relevant data on Kenya and Senegal . Table 1 offers data over time on three UNDP indicators of knowledge (as measured by literacy and enrolment). Table 2 contains data on indicators of gender equality (as measured by gender equality in education), while table 3 covers related variables that are currently beyond the reach of the MDGs.

Table 1: Human Development Indicators of Knowledge Acquisition

MDGs of literacy and enrolment

 Kenya

Senegal

 Net primary enrolment ratio (%)

1990/91

 2001/02

 1990/91

 2001/02

74

70

47

58

Children reaching grade 5 (% of grade 1 students)

1990/91

 2000/01

 1990/91

2000/01

--

--

85

68

Youth literacy rate (% ages
15-24)

1990

 2002

 1990

2002

89.8

95.8

40.1

52.9

Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2004) Human Development Report 2004

Table 2: Human Development Indicators of Gender Equality

 MDGs of gender equality in education

Kenya

Senegal

Youth literacy
(2002)

Female rate
(% ages 15-24)

Female rate as % of male rate

Female rate
(% ages 15-24)

Female rate as % of male rate

95.1

99

44.5

72

Net primary enrolment
(2000/2001)

Female ratio (%)

Ratio of female to male

Female ratio (%)

Ratio of female to male

71*

1.02*

54*

.89*

Net secondary enrolment
(2000/2001)

Female ratio (%)

Ratio of female to male

Female ratio (%)

Ratio of female to male

24

.97

--

--

Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2004) Human Development Report 2004
* “Preliminary UNESCO Institute for Statistics estimates, subject to further revision” (UNDP, 2004: 228).

Table 3 :Human Development Indicators of Commitment to Education and the Gender-related Development Index (GDI)

 Non-MDGs of education and gender

 Kenya

 Senegal

Public expenditure on education as a % of GDP

 1990

1999/2001

 1990

1999/2001

6.7

6.2

3.9

3.2

Public expenditure on education as a % of total government expenditure

1990

 1999/2001

1990

 1999/2001

17.0

22.3

26.9

--

GDI: Combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary level schools (%)
(2001/2002)

Female

 Male

 Female

 Male

52

54

35

41

Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2004) Human Development Report 2004

The data in the above tables raise as many questions as they answer. If “good data” are vital for monitoring progress[65] then why are data missing and how are accurate figures to be produced? If rates of progress in achieving the MDGs are slower in rural areas than urban ones[66] then shouldn’t national-level data be disaggregated to show “inter-regional variations” and “geographical disadvantage”?[67] What explains change (both positive and negative) over time? Why – on all measures except one in table 3 – does Senegal compare unfavourably to Kenya ? Even if the former President of the World Bank was correct when he said that “the single most important key to development and to poverty alleviation is education”[68] then why are only some aspects on the MDG agenda? And last but not least, if “all efforts to date have been focused on enrolments” then shouldn’t emphasis shift to performance and “what girls are actually learning in school”?[69] I have argued before that “the contribution of quantitative data to knowledge production is taken for granted” at the World Bank.[70] This suggests that dominant indicators of education and gender equality are dominant precisely because they can be quantified and not because they are necessarily the most useful or telling. If the information in tables 1-3 is useful at all it is precisely because it raises questions while highlighting the current priorities and norms of international development institutions. Furthermore, a rich array of different ‘service providers’ – in this case Diambars and MYSA – can then be analysed in those terms.

Diambars and the MDGs

The Diambars scheme is part of a huge UNESCO project, which aims at providing 100% of the children on the African continent with schooling by 2015.[71]

The quote above refers implicitly to Education for All, of which UNESCO is effectively the project manager.[72] The reference is unsurprising given the location of the EFA Forum in 2000. Indeed, UNESCO is a partner of Diambars, along with branches of the French and Senegalese governments, multinational corporations such as Adidas and Air France, and assorted private individuals.[73]

The above quote is also noteworthy for mentioning the African continent as opposed to just Senegal . This shows that while the Diambars Academy - the boarding school for Senegalese boys in Saly, near Dakar - has a national reach, the Diambars Institute (with its branches in three countries) has a continental vision and aspirations. The wider impetus (as for the MDGs) is lack of enrolment and absence of schooling; “in Africa, more than 70% of all children do not attend school, or barely so.”[74] The eventual goal – if the “pilot project” in Saly proves successful - is the creation of “other institutes in other countries, with other champions.”[75] In terms of the EFA and MDGs, the success of any school is easily measured by pupil numbers – by quantifiable enrolments (at primary level in particular) and their growth over time.[76] Here, a selective secondary school such as Diambars faces an inherent difficulty. Of the 15,000 youngsters who participated in its scouting programme in 2003, only 25 were initially enrolled in the Academy.[77] The target enrolment is still only 48 per year.[78] To counter the charge that its intake is “insignificant,” Diambars emphasises the potential “ripple effect” of its combined activities - everything from scouting and selection to quality training, formal schooling and the playing of matches. As “a showcase of schooling in places where there is none,” Diambars  describes itself as a “school about schooling.”[79]

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the attraction of Diambars is not its formal curriculum but the combination of soccer training (which makes up 30 percent of the pupils’ day) and free education (the other 70 percent).[80] This alludes to the wider problem of “the cost and opportunity cost for the poor of sending children to school,”[81] as well as to the power of the Diambars example.

Even if Diambars were to succeed in showcasing schooling and expanding geographically, the boys-only policy necessarily precludes contribution to the gender-related MDGs and to what UNESCO  calls “the leap to equality.”[82] Indeed, the more successful Diambars becomes, the more it will exacerbate (rather than diminish) existing gender inequalities in education.     

Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and the MDGs

MYSA was not simply setting up a girls’ football league; rather, it was embarking on a process of transforming gender norms.[83]

The inclusion of girls in MYSA sports programmes in 1992 (the same year the UNEP award was presented at the Earth Summit in Brazil ) signalled organisational growth along gender lines. Other markers of expansion are in terms of geography (expanded coverage within the Mathare area) and – most importantly - programming. Like Diambars, MYSA now operates a soccer academy to provide quality training to MYSA youth – some of whom go on to play professionally for Mathare United.[84] But MYSA is also a soccer school of a different sort. With its activities expanding to include community outreach as well as different forms of education, MYSA has become both a membership organisation and a ‘school without borders.’

Even if “soccer is the magnet that draws in the young,”[85] membership in MYSA is possible by other means, such as serving as a volunteer. It is thus membership in MYSA and not raw sporting talent (as with Diambars) that provides access to free education. Since all members of MYSA (even Mathare United professionals) must perform community service, environmental awareness via the Slum Clean Up programme remains a key element of non-formal education. Another element is a peer education programme around HIV/AIDS and other health problems, which Brady and Khan describe as “MYSA’s most important educational activity.”[86]

Qualification for the benefits of a more formal education becomes possible after two years’ membership in MYSA. Members may then apply for an educational scholarship to cover school fees. Qualified candidates earn points by participating in MYSA activities. Those with the highest points are free to nominate a family member to receive the award, “but the sum is not given in cash for other needs like food or individual use.” Instead “it is paid directly to any identified school or training institute chosen by the youth.”[87] In a situation where the majority do not go to school “due to school fees,” the scholarship scheme has boosted voluntary activities because “everyone is aiming for the highest points for the scholarship award.”[88]

All things considered, MYSA’s contribution to the MDGs compares favourably to that of Diambars. Over 13,000 boys and about 3,000 girls are soccer-playing members of the Association.[89] This is roughly equivalent to the figure of 15,000 who tried out for Diambars in 2003. As for the scholarship awards scheme, 100 scholarships per annum is the typical figure – 60 for boys and 40 for girls.[90] This is more than double the projected enrolment at Diambars. Finally, by offering a combination of formal and informal education to girls and boys, MYSA contributes to more of the MDGs (i.e. environment, health and gender as well as education) than does Diambars.

Despite their differences, these small-scale operations both offer additional evidence of an inverse relationship between educational cost and enrolment in school.[91] In so doing, they validate wider calls for the abolition of school fees and “reforms to take account of poverty.”[92] At the same time, the case studies raise further questions about the extent to which “decent and free schooling” can be provided without government involvement.[93]

Even if “more public spending alone is not enough,”[94] the question remains as to why increased public expenditure on education should not be an MDG target. And even as non-state providers of education (in all their diversity) attract a variety of interested partners, the magnitude of the education challenge shows why “rich countries” remain under pressure to provide “more and better aid.”[95] In the words of Desmond Bermingham, the new head of the Fast Track Initiative, “the challenge is now to turn pledges into action.”[96]  

Conclusion

The aim of this paper was neither to rally support for African soccer schools nor to reassert the value of a particular theory. Rather, the purpose was to critically analyse the idea of African soccer schools (those with and without borders) as development organisations.

The wider lessons of the case studies are twofold. The first has to do with broader paradigms of international development and change. The creeping logic of neo-liberalism is exposed by the continued rationalisation of African states and the steady spread of privatisation beyond the economic realm into educational provision and sport. Even if private unaided schools are actually better than public schools along a number of dimensions, the other ‘two Ps’ of the currently dominant development agenda – namely participation and partnership – guarantee a very limited role for the state in the future. Within the terms of the World Bank’s Comprehensive Development Framework, after all, the state is but one agent of development along with civil society, international donors, and private corporations.  

The second lesson relates more directly to current international development targets as expressed through the MDGs. These emerged at a time of widespread challenges to the neo-liberal agenda (including structural adjustment in Africa) and have become an object of contestation and debate in their own right. Even their supporters admit they stand no chance of achievement without substantial increases in overseas development assistance. Within the narrow limits of only one educational target, for example, the FTI requires “as much as US$10 billion annually to meet the goal of getting 100 million children worldwide into school by 2015.”[97] In conclusion, the development theories that African soccer schools express, the promises they make on their own behalf, and the possibilities they offer, are best understood in international context against a colonial and post-colonial backdrop. The most significant development concepts are not only neo-colonialism (as others have argued in relation to soccer academies) but also modernisation, neo-liberalism and the MDGs. 

References

[1] Diambars Institute, “The Project: How Diambars Was Born.”  (www.diambars.com/uk/Projet/comment_est_ne_diambars.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[2] M Brady and A.B. Khan, Letting Girls Play: The Mathare Youth Sports Association’s Football Program for Girls (The Population Council, 2002), iii. (www.popcouncil.org/pdfs/girlsplay.pdf. Accessed 15/11/04).

[3] Patrick Vieira quoted in M. Gleeson, “Vieira and the ‘Diambars’” (www.footballculture.net/players/feat_vieira.html. Accessed 17/11/04).

[4] Deccan Herald, “Offering Hope to Struggling Masses” Deccan Herald ( 29th April, 2004), 1 (www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/apr292004/ss4.asp).

[5] See Schools without Borders, “Mathare Youth Sport Association Kenya” (www.schoolswithoutborders.com/SWB/leadership/?section=kenya&subsection=MYSA. Accessed 23/11/04).

[6] See for example Soccer Agent.net, “Africa Soccer Recruiting” (www.socceragent.net/africa.php. Accessed 16/11/04).

[7] H. Hognestad and A. Tollisen, “Playing against Deprivation: Football and Development in Nairobi, Kenya ,” in G. Armstrong and R. Giulianotti (eds.), Football in Africa: Conflict, Conciliation and Community (Hampshire UK and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 210-226.

[8] See J. Bale, “Three Geographies of African Footballer Migration: Patterns, Problems and Postcoloniality,” in Armstrong and Giulianotti, Football in Africa, 229-246; and P. Darby, G. Akindes and M. Kirwin, “Football Academies and the Migration of African Football Labour to Europe, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, (forthcoming 2007).

[9] See in general Armstrong and Giulianotti, Football in Africa.

[10] A. Inkeles and D.H. Smith, Becoming Modern: Individual Change in Six Developing Countries (London: Heinemann, 1974), 139.

[11] P. Mahlmann, “The Role of Sport in the Process of Modernisation: The Kenyan Case,” Journal of East African Research and Development 22 (1992), 120-131.

[12] P. Darby, Africa Football and FIFA: Politics, Colonialism and Resistance (Frank Cass: London, 2002), 10.

[13] Diambars Institute, “The Institute: The Diambars Charter” (www.diambars.com/uk/institut/charte.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[14] Hognestad and Tollisen, “Playing Against Deprivation,” 215.

[15] Darby, Africa Football and FIFA, 11.

[16] R. Giulianotti and G. Armstrong, “Drama, Fields and Metaphors: An Introduction to Football in Africa,” in Giulianotti and Armstrong, Football in Africa, 7.

[17] L. Fair, “Ngoma Reverberations: Swahili Music Culture and the Making of Football Aesthetics in Early Twentieth-Century Zanzibar,” pp.103-113 in Armstrong and Giulianotti, Football in Africa, 105.

[18] Mahlmann, “The Role of Sport in the Process of Modernisation,” 125; see also Fair, “Ngoma Reverberations.”

[19] Mahlmann, “The Role of Sport in the Process of Modernisation,” 125; Darby, Africa Football and FIFA, 12.

[20] Diambars Institute, “The Institute: The Diambars Charter.”

[21] Hognestad and Tollisen, “Playing Against Deprivation,” 215.

[22] MYSA, “History of MYSA: Executive” www.mysakenya.org/history/executive.htm); and MYSA, “Girls Football: Aims and Achievements” (www.mysakenya.org/sports/girlsaim.htm). Accessed 30/11/04.

[23] See for example J.M. Coetzee, White Writing: On the Culture of Letters in South Africa (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988), 16-18; and R.L. Doty, Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations (Minneapolis and London: Lynne Rienner, 1996), 62-67.

[24] Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 18-19.

[25] Fair, “Ngoma Reverberations,” 104.

[26] Armstrong and Giulianotti, “Football in Africa.

[27] Darby, Africa Football and FIFA, 19.

[28] (Inkeles and Smith, Becoming Modern, 140.

[29] (Inkeles and Smith, Becoming Modern, 140-41; Mahlmann, “The Role of Sport in the Process of Modernisation,” 128.

[30] See for example K. Manzo, “Modernist Discourse and the Crisis of Development Theory,” Studies in Comparative International Development 26 (1991), 3-36.

[31] Kick It Out, “Patrick’s Dream.” January 17, 2003. (www.snowmedia.net/clients/Kickitout/story.cfm. Accessed 17/11/04).

[32] See for example Bale, “Three Geographies of African Footballer Migration.”

[33] Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 13.

[34] Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 7-8.

[35] Quoted in Hognestad and Tollisen, “Playing against Deprivation, 211.

[36] Street Football World, “Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), Kenya” (http://globall.streetfootballworld.org/Projects/Project.2004-03-02.3402148438/index. Accessed 23/11/04).

[37] See K. Manzo, “Nongovernmental Organisations and Models of Development in India ,” The Journal of Environment and Development 9, 3 (2000), 284-313.

[38] See “Goals of MYSA” (www.mysakenya.org/history/mysaaims.htm)

and “Girls Football: Challenges and Future Plans” (www.mysakenya.org/sports/girlschal.htm). Both accessed 30/11/04.

[39] See for example Footballculture.net, “Changing Lives through Football – Nairobi Kids,” 2001 (www.footballculture.net/players/feat_keny.html). Accessed 17/11/04); Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play; Hognestad and Tollisen, “Playing against Deprivation;” and Schools Without Borders, “Mathare Youth Sport Association Kenya .”

[40] Hognestad and Tollisen, “Playing against Deprivation.”

[41] Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 1.

[42] Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 5.

[43] Z. Qureshi, “Speak Out: Discussion with Zia Qureshi on Monitoring the Millennium Development Goals, October 26, 2004, 1-12 (http://discuss.worldbank.org/chat/view/9301. Accessed 02/11/04).

[44] Development News Media Centre, “MDGs: Countdown to 2015 – Gender Equity,” November 11, (2004) (http://web.worldbank.org. Accessed 23/11/04).

[45] World Bank Group, “Achieve Universal Primary Education” (www.developmentgoals.org/Education.htm. Accessed 02/12/04).

[46] The World Bank Group, “Millennium Development Goals” (www.developmentgoals.org. Accessed 02/11/04).

[47] World Bank, World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for Poor People ( Washington D.C.: World Bank Organisation, 2004).

[48] Qureshi, “Speak Out,” 5.

[49] K. Manzo, “ Africa in the Rise of Rights-based Development,” Geoforum 34 (2003), 437-456.

[50] J. Wolfensohn, “A Proposal for a Comprehensive Development Framework,” January 21,1999, 8  (www.worldbank.org/cdf/cdf-text.htm. Accessed 22/06/99).

[51] Oxfam International, “Act Now: Campaign Goes Global” (www.oxfam.org/educationnow/news/GlobalCampaign.htm. Accessed 22/02/00).

[52] World Bank Group, “Education for All (EFA)” (www1.worldbank.org/education/efa.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[53] O. Bowcott, “Oxfam’s Protest Wins Backers for Education Plan” Guardian March 1, 2000, 3.

[54] Overseas Development Institute (ODI), “Can We Attain the Millennium Development Goals in Education and Health Through Public Expenditure and Aid?” ODI Briefing Paper, April 2003, 1. (www.odi.org.uk/publications/briefing/briefing_papers/index.html. Accessed 7/2/05).

[55] World Bank, “School Enrollments Rising as African Nations Reform Systems,” News and Broadcast, July 06, 2006, 2 (available at http://web.worldbank.org. Accessed 21/07/06).

[56] See Oxfam International, “Act Now.”

[57] J. Tooley, “Is Private Education Good for the Poor?” Working paper from a study in sub-Saharan Africa and India . Available from www.ncl.ac.uk/egwest. Accessed 25/06/05.

[58] Tooley, “Is Private Education Good for the Poor?”, iii.

[59] Riaz Khan, quoted in Qureshi, “Speak Out,” 8

[60] See for example D.E. Sahn and D.C. Stifel, “Progress Toward the Millennium Development Goals in Africa,” World Development 31, 1, 2003, 23-52; and R. Jolly, “Global Development Goals: the United Nations Experience,” Journal of Human Development 5, 1, 2004, 69-88.

[61] M.A. Baaz, The Paternalism of Partnership: A Postcolonial Reading of Identity in Development Aid ( London and New York: Zed Books, 2005); J.M. Brinkerhoff, Partnership for International Development: Rhetoric or Results? ( Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner, 2002); and A. Zalik, “The Niger Delta: ‘Petro Violence’ and ‘Partnership Development’” Review of African Political Economy 101, 31, 2004, 401-424.

[62] ODI, “Can we Achieve the MDGs in Education and Health?”, 3.

[63] World Bank, World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for Poor People ( Washington D.C.: World Bank Organisation, 2004), 256.

[64] See United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2004 ( New York: UNDP, 2004), 127-228.

[65] Qureshi, “Speak Out,” 5.

[66] Sahn and Stifel, “Progress Toward the MDGs in Africa.”

[67] ODI, “Can we Attain the MDGs in Education and Health?”, 2.

[68] Wolfensohn, “A Proposal for a Comprehensive Development Framework,” 5.

[69] Mercy Tembon at the World Bank, quoted in Development News Media Centre, Development News Media Centre, “Engendering Change in the Classroom,” November 11, 2004, 2 (http://web.worldbank.org. Accessed 23/11/04).2.

[70] K. Manzo, “The ‘New’ Developmentalism: Political Liberalism and the Washington Consensus,” in D. Slater and P.J. Taylor (eds.) The American Century: Consensus and Coercion in the Projection of American Power (Oxford: Blackwell,1999),102.

[71] Diambars Institute, “The Institute: Scouting and Selection” (www.diambars.com/uk/Projet/comment_est_ne_diambars.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[72] UNESCO, Gender and Education for All: The Leap to Equality. Summary Report ( Paris: UNESCO, 2003).

[73] Diambars Institute, “The Champions: Champions in Life” (www.diambars.com/uk/champions/vie.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[74] Diambars Institute, “The Project: Context” (www.diambars.com/uk/Projet/contexte.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[75] Street Football World, “MYSA, Kenya ;” see also Diambars Institute, “The Project: Our Goal” (www.diambars.com/uk/Projet/objectif.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[76] ODI, “Can we Obtain the MDGs in Education and Health?”, 2.

[77] Diambars, “The Institute: Scouting and Selection; Gleeson, “Vieira and the Diambars,” 1.

[78] Street Football World, “ Diambars, Senegal” (http://globall.streetfootballworld.org/Projects/Project.2004-03-23.5640287287/index. Accessed 15/12/04).

[79] Diambars, “The Project: Our Goal.”

[80] Diambars Institute, “The Institute: Testimonies” (www.diambars.com/uk/institut/testimoniaux.asp. Accessed 23/11/04).

[81] ODI, “Can we Attain the MDGs in Education and Health?”, 3.

[82] UNESCO, Gender and Education for All: The Leap to Equality.

[83] Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 12.

[84] Hognestad and Tollisen, “”Playing against Deprivation; Schools Without Borders, “MYSA, Kenya .”

[85] Schools Without Borders, “MYSA, Kenya .”

[86] Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 17.

[87] MYSA, “MYSA Education: Leadership (Scholarship Award) Project” (www.mysakenya.org/education/leadership.htm. Accessed 30/11/04).

[88] MYSA, “MYSA Education: Leadership (Scholarship Award) Aims and Achievements” (www.mysakenya.org/education/ledaim.htm. Accessed 30/11/04).

[89] MYSA, “MYSA Sports: Boys Football Introduction” (www.mysakenya.org/sports/introboys.htm. Accessed 30/11/04); Brady and Kahn, Letting Girls Play, 13.

[90] MYSA, “MYSA Education.”

[91] See UNESCO, Gender and Education for All, 14.

[92] ODI, “Can we Attain the MDGs in Education and Health?”, 3.

[93] UNESCO, Gender and Education for All, 14.

[94] World Bank, World Development Report 2004, 35.

[95] See Make Poverty History 2005 “More and Better Aid” (www.makepovertyhistory.org/aim3.html. Accessed 04/03/05).

[96] Quoted in World Bank, “School Enrollments Rising as African Nations Reform Systems,” News and Broadcast, July 06, 2006, 2 (available at http://web.worldbank.org. Accessed 21/07/06).

[97] World Bank, “School Enrollments Rising,” 2.

Kate Manzo Ph. D. Bio
Kate Manzo is lecturer ininternational development in the School of Geography, Politics andSociology at the University of Newcastle, England. Kate is also authorof a novel whose central character is a football fanatic. Starting a NewSeason is available from www.amazon.co.uk."
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