n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Upward social mobility through women's soccer : psycho-social perspectives of sports

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Social capital is based on networks of people, cultural values and collective ideologies which bring advantages to individuals and groups. Sport and Development NGOs and government entities are capitalising on the widely propagated agenda that sport addresses a variety of social ills. Upward social mobility assists in overcoming the prevalent problems of poverty faced by the majority of South Africans, particularly football players. In depth interviews with five female football players from the University of Johannesburg and thirteen of their family members revealed different types of social capital gained through participation in South African football. Increased social capital comes through established peer relationships, gaining social and emotional skills, and new education opportunities. Peer relationships are entrenched in the socialisation process that occurs during sports participation. It is widely believed that active sport participation helps in keeping children 'off the streets', busy and provides them with opportunities to make friends with boys and girls, which assists the players in maintaining healthy relationships throughout life. Individuals involved also learned positive social and emotional skills as they participated in football, including respect, anger management, and tolerance, which improves social relationships and can in turn impact social mobility. Participation in football also provided the players with improved educational opportunities, where they were given scholarships to attend that schools their respective households would not have been able to send them to, been inspired to study further in a sports-related field, and been taught essential life skills.

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