Itamar Dubinsky is a lecturer at the African Studies Program, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, and a postdoctorate fellow at the Davis Institute for International Relations, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a former visiting assistant professor at Oregon State University. His research focuses on sports and development in Africa, specifically in Ghana. His other publications have dealt with the intersections of sports and politics, culture, and society in Nigeria and South Africa. Itamar’s current research project examines the spread of basketball academies in numerous African countries. He is a former youth basketball coach, and a current Premier League football fantasy manager.
Itamar DubinskyENTREPRENEURIAL GOALS examines the agendas, strategies, and outcomes of locally-based soccer ventures in Ghana. The underlying thesis of the book is that the locally established academies are indeed financial ventures, and those who founded and operate them are seeking material gains. But the study reveals that alongside profit to themselves, Ghanaian entrepreneurs also use soccer academies to promote economic, social, and cultural development in their communities. As such, the study views football academies as an expression of Africapitalism, linking for-profit development schemes to personal and communal growth. Seen from this standpoint, the book breaks with earlier portrayals of the negative consequences of international soccer academies in Ghana, and offers instead a view of local actors working to promote not only their personal interests, but also communal goals. At the same time, the book reveals the contradictions and complications that arise when for-profit initiatives aspire to reap social benefits for the entire community.
I hope the book will interest you, and contribute to your own research on sports in Africa.
From the publisher page
“Entrepreneurial Goals creates a new body of evidence on the relationship between African sport and society, a field of inquiry of growing significance. The author’s numerous interviews with Ghanaian coaches, staff workers, players, parents, fans, and others shed new light on the everyday operation of soccer training centers and their wider impact.”
The idea that the African private sector will generate economic prosperity and social wealth—an objective many governments and foreign charitable organizations have failed to achieve—continues to attract attention in business and policy circles. Yet little research has actually been conducted on Africapitalist endeavors. With the immense popularity of sports and the many aspirations they foster, the successes and shortcomings of soccer academies have kicked their way into the spotlight. Entrepreneurial Goals breaks away from studies that focus on the international relations consequences of soccer ventures, which are often rebuked as extended forms of European colonialism and exploitation of local talent, and instead centers Ghanaian establishments and the opportunities they create for local development within their surrounding communities.
Itamar Dubinsky’s extensive ethnographic research offers an innovative theoretical approach by assessing three institutions—Mandela Soccer Academy, Kumasi Sports Academy, and Unistar Soccer Academy—through an Africapitalist prism. He demonstrates that these business endeavors, when viewed from the perspective of local interests, realize many of the educational, financial, and community building ambitions of the region. This pioneering examination of locally owned academies in Ghana reflects Dubinsky’s aim of illuminating the entrepreneurs and programs whose success passes to participating youth and their families, while also exposing the contradictions of for-profit development initiatives that purport to reap collective social benefits.
“A valuable contribution to the study of African football academies, their economic and educational viability, and their sustainability. Entrepreneurial Goals is also a lively narration of the friction between Africapitalism, development, and the broader economic and social realities of Ghana and Africa in general.”
—Gerard Akindes, University of Salford
“Very impressive. . . . Certainly, Entrepreneurial Goals: Development and Africapitalism in Ghanaian Soccer Academies should serve well high school and college level students, researchers and, indeed, the general reader, who is a football (or soccer) enthusiast.”
—African and Asian Studies