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“Sports can support employment in Africa”
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“Sports can support employment in Africa”

Recognition of sport and whether it can play a role in supporting employment is an issue African governments are considering, writes Dennis Kwasi Boateng, 28, a Correspondent living in London. His experience in the field gives him confidence about where it can lead.

Before enrolment on my MSc in Sports Management, some of my relatives didn’t understand where such a subject could take me, with questions such as how this would lead to a career. Most of the objection came from a relative who lived in Ghana, who was of the opinion that sports itself was just a pastime and not something I should concentrate on as a career.

Due to the nature of sports in Africa, recognising sports as a field of work is something many in Africa are still not accustomed to. I believe this stems from scenarios of domestic athletes not being well paid, and inappropriate or non-existent facilities for leisure currently available in Africa.

These informal settings make it near enough impossible for the various governing bodies in Ghana to develop additional revenue streams for their particular sports, coupled with the fact that the infrastructure within these sports lacks the trained staff, structured national competitions and full-scale integration with public and private schools across the nation. But as a point of reference and on a brighter note, it took several decades for governing bodies in developed nations to formalise their industry. Therefore there is still hope, and evident progress of effective commercialisation of the sporting industry on the continent.

Modern-day partnerships between businesses and sporting entities now see activities such as stadiums bearing the names of companies, and sponsorships deals with company logos appearing on athletes’ clothing and equipment, as well as appearing in the actual titles of the events in which they compete.

These activities prompt media companies to pay vast amounts for the right to broadcast sporting events, while advertisers pay a premium to promote products during the screening of these events. Hence, the cycle continues. If structured and utilised correctly, surely every domestic league in the continent can capitalise on income raised in such a manner, to create an effective sporting environment which supports employment – or is this just wishful thinking where Africa is concerned?

From a European perspective, sports-related employment represents 2.12 per cent of total employment in the EU, which is equivalent to 4.46 million jobs. As stated by the EU 4 Sports Clutters report, the industry as a whole accounted for 1.76 per cent of gross value added to the collective EU economy. (173.86BN)

Since the total number of employment represents a higher number, then the number of gross value added indicates that the sports sector in Europe is a labour-intensive sector of the economy. From an African perspective, a report called “How to close Africa’s jobs gap” stated that governments across the continent in the present and in the future would require focusing on sectors that have substantial economic potential for competitiveness in both domestic and foreign markets, which will in the long term create jobs for the labour market.

I think that sports can make a positive contribution in helping to increase Africa’s labour numbers, eventually leading to the creation of a professional, formal sporting sector. Many of the functions within the sports industries are service based, which means it will be a labour-intensive industry, similar to the retail sector which is the highest employment sector in the EU. Focussing on home-grown athletics and creating attractive domestic leagues within the continent would draw consumers, which would be beneficial for increasing attendance at stadiums and of those who watch local matches on TV. These subtle elements are some of the integral elements needed for private investments in clubs in the future.

Given the vast opportunity to create jobs, the sports sector can create specific roles such as coaching, performance analysis, facilities management, outdoor activities, sport and leisure centre management and sports development, to name a few. This is excluding the range of head office roles which would be required including finance, IT, sales and marketing and general management roles within the sector.

Sporting agencies such as careers-in-sports.com, leisure jobs and global sports job are some of the many agencies that provide job opportunities. These organisations are a prime example of future possibilities if African governments focus on the sports industry as part of the agenda to improve their respective economies. Surely this will stir the inception of similar agencies across the continent, supporting the continuous cycle of employment the continent requires.

It’s a process which will not happen overnight, but the potential forecast output is something which is an exciting prospect, and a journey which I would love to go on!

Photo credit: Yutaka Seki via photopin (license)

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About me:  I have an eye for capitalism but am a social entrepreneur at heart. Currently I am a facilities supervisor for a leisure operator in the UK. Interested in the sustainable growth of the Africa continent, I believe that uplifting the sports industry will be important to the economic growth of the continent. I love to write about the opportunities of the sports sector and the impact it can have to create a conducive environment to support employment on the continent.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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