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Accepted Paper:

Sports, Pentecostalism, and desire for mobility among aspiring footballers in Cameroon  
Uroš Kovač (University of Groningen)

Paper short abstract:

Pentecostal Christianity serves as a part of the solution to key issues that aspiring Cameroonian footballers encounter in their struggle to achieve an athletic career: forced immobility and closure of borders, and danger of sexual temptations.

Paper long abstract:

Young aspiring footballers in Cameroon, who despite all odds dream of being transnationally mobile through professional contracts with European football clubs, are increasingly joining Pentecostal Christian denominations and consulting Pentecostal preachers and prophets ("Men of God"). Two key practices stand out as central for the young footballers. The first is the anointing of their newly acquired passports which are being prepared for visa applications. The second is the exorcism of "mammiwata", a female spirit from the marine world who stands for sexual temptation. These practices serve as a way for young footballers to address the key difficulties they perceive in their aspiration to sporting success. The intertwinement of these practices shows that epitome of success for the young footballers - mobility out of the country - largely depends on regulation of gendered and, in this case, sexual behavior. Pentecostal Christianity serves the young footballers as a convenient way to address their key concerns: forced immobility and closure of borders, and danger of sexual temptations.

Panel P008
Transnational sport migrants and human futures
  Session 1