The genesis of a football field: urban football in Soweto, South Africa
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionGrønlund, J. (2021). The genesis of a football field: urban football in Soweto, South Africa. Soccer & Society, 22(3), 218-230. https://doi.org/10.1080/14660970.2020.1790357
The township of Soweto is formally a part of the Johannesburg Metropole and is home to an estimated 1.3 million people. While this famous high-density suburb has served as a subject for a broad spectrum of social-scientific enquiries, anthropological perspectives on grassroots football in the township have not yet been offered. Using a grounded methodological approach and drawing on extended ethnography, this article argues that football grounds are dependent not only on the materials they are constructed from but also on the social relations forming them. The point of departure of this article, empirically and analytically, is a football ground that both unfolds and disappears in the course of an afternoon. I argue that the forming and framing of the football facility develops through boundaries of meaning that convey key messages regarding identity and community in the township.