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Kicking the Ball: Youth, Sport and Identity in Ireland

Max Mauro

External Examiner: Associate Professor Michael Giardina, Florida State University, USA
Date Awarded: 2013
Max Mauro SEPR graduated thesis 2013


This thesis explores the sport practices of migrant youth in Ireland, focusing on the meaning of sport, namely football, for male teenagers of immigrant origin. Football is the most popular game among young people in Ireland, and according to the Schoolboys Association of Ireland over one hundred thousand boys and girls throughout the country play the game. Through the adoption of a textual and filmic approach, Kick the Ball combines the methodological tools of journalistic inquiry with those of practice-based ethnographic research. The study engages with the social worlds of members of two youth football teams based in west Dublin - a residential location with the highest national percentage of immigrant families. Along with the meaning of sport for youth of different ethnic backgrounds, the thesis foregrounds processes of identity construction and reconstruction, racial/cultural belonging and new modes of citizenship. A central concern of this study is how and in what ways participation in sport functions to enhance the social inclusion of migrant youth and their families. Racism in football emerges from this ethnographic inquiry as a critical topic and focus of analytical attention.