Sidney Acquaye


Loughborough University’s reputation in sport is what drew me in. Considering that I wanted to pursue a career in sport for development after working for a while in finance, my strategy was to be associated with the best Higher Education Institution in England for sport related subjects.

I have been greatly inspired by the work that lecturers on the programme have done. Even after graduating, I am still in contact with some who constantly provide guidance and support. I found the modules on Research Methods and Sport Policy, Governance and Law very useful. I have continuously applied concepts and theories from these modules in my work.

I would say to anyone thinking of undertaking Sport Management at Loughborough, that the programme offers more than just an opportunity to engage academically. Come in with an open mind and network with as many of your peers and lecturers as possible.

Alleviating sport child trafficking

I started working as a research assistant at Mission 89 - a research, education and advocacy organisation that fights the exploitation of young athletes through social and economic transformation - while I was studying at Loughborough. This helped me to acquire an increased interest in research and sharpened my research skills, especially in quantitative methodology.

After graduating I secured a research coordinator role at Mission 89, where I am currently responsible for communication and coordination of activities within an expert group of professionals in sport on a project aimed at eventually alleviating sport child trafficking.

My role includes preparing materials for submission to agencies / foundations that fund research and other projects; and assisting with the editing and preparation of fact sheets, articles, white papers, reports, and presentations etc.

Football, being one of the most popular sports globally, especially in Africa, is increasingly becoming a more convenient path into Europe. Many young children see African players succeed overseas and hold on to the belief that they too could be the next Didier Drogba or Michael Essien.

This common perception of young athletes feeds into the ideology supporting the general perception that spatial mobility leads to social mobility. Far from being pessimistic, the reality is that, very few will eventually be successful, while many remain vulnerable to child trafficking.

Mission 89 adopts the ideation that football academies globally may serve as an important institution in the fight against sport child trafficking once the right governance practices are in place. Hence, our current project involves a study of football academies in Ghana to understand their operations and its bearing on sport child trafficking.

Based on these findings, we will then provide recommendations and design a framework for safeguarding minors in the form of a multi-stakeholder toolkit which could be disseminated by the various football associations to all football academies.


*Sidney is a Sport Management MSc graduate, originally from Ghana.

Sidney Acquaye
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