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A sociological examination of Youth Academy male footballers’ experiences of the transition from school to work

Hague, Nicola ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9541-4713 (2019) A sociological examination of Youth Academy male footballers’ experiences of the transition from school to work. Masters thesis, York St John University.

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The dream of many young male children is often to become a professional footballer after idolising their favourite players for many years. Football is a global sport, bringing together and uniting people in support of their teams and countries. Existing research in the field has sought to begin to understand what professional footballers experience on their journey through the game. However, much of this research has focused on first team players and their professional experiences, including transitions from youth team to first team and to retirement. This study, therefore, aimed to examine players during their youth academy stage, having just arrived at one English Championship club as a scholar. This study focused on the transitional experiences of youth players and their resulting embodying of a footballer’s identity. 12 semi-structured interviews with players aged 17-19 were conducted and then analysed using figurational sociology concepts such as power, interdependencies, figurations and habitus. It is argued that early specialisation in football was a prevalent factor that partly influenced the way the players experienced their transition. Factors such as leaving home, friends and family, whilst managing new norms and traditional expectations of behaviours in the club were described as positive and negative elements that contributed towards how the players felt. Players football identities were both enabled and constrained through the creation of new interdependencies with other players and coaches at the club that perpetuated their evolving habitus. The transition into the academy coincided with the transition from youth to adulthood that was arguably anything but linear as players managed the dominant hyper-masculine culture present in the club. Ultimately this study has added to existing knowledge on professional footballers, whilst highlighting that the transitions these players experience are crucial in understanding how they live and identify as a footballer.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Status: Submitted
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV0557 Sports
School/Department: School of Science, Technology and Health
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/4359

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