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The Ethics of Youth Football Development in Tanzania: A Critique

Latest News January 08, 2020
The Ethics of Youth Football Development in Tanzania: A Critique

By Eric Junior Appiah

Youth participation and development is vital to the sustainability and development of football as with all other sports. The inherent power dynamics associated with youth football development necessitates the existence of ethical guidelines and norms in ensuring good practice.

Ethics are important for youth football development as it holds policy and practice together. The absence of ethical guidelines renders young athletes vulnerable to numerous unethical treatments (financial exploitation, abuse and violence; either physical, sexual, psychological or emotional and inequality based on gender, religion, dis/ability and ethnicity) (David, 2005). Using a football academy in Tanzania as the case, the study aimed to explore the ethics of youth (12-17 years) football organisation and processes and to develop culturally sensitive ethical guidelines on youth football development for the academy and others in Tanzania.

This study sought to answer three questions:

(i) what are the existing ethical guidelines on youth football development in Tanzania?;

(ii) what are the ethical and socio-cultural barriers to youth football development in Tanzania?; and

(iii) what should a culturally sensitive ethical guideline on youth football development in Tanzania look like?

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three adult participants (age=36±9.79): two youth coaches and one senior representative of the Tanzania Football Federation. Two focus group interviews each with 12 participants were conducted for males (age=14.00±1.87) females (age=15.16±1.14) and youth athletes (n=24).


All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and inductively analysed. Desktop analysis was done in answering the first and third research questions. Thus, good examples or at least examples of code of conduct, ethical guidelines and/or position statements on youth sport were reviewed. Notable are the Panathlon Declaration on Ethics in Youth Sport and Charter for Academy Players and Parents: English Football League (EFL) Youth Development Players’ and Parents’ Guide Season 2018/19.

The Results

The desktop analysis yielded no ethical resources whatsoever; there are no published codified ethical guidelines on youth football development in Tanzania, this was corroborated by the shared knowledge and experience of participants. Existing ethical practices, ethical and socio-cultural barriers, benefits and recommendations, and other dominant dimensions were identified as broad themes upon analysis and discussed in relation to existing literature.


Considering the cultural context, review of exemplary ethical guidelines and discussion of results, culturally sensitive ethical guidelines are proposed. Three general recommendations and 17 culturally sensitive ethical guidelines were developed under five ethically relevant categories:

  • Safeguarding
  • Principle of Beneficence
  • Fairness
  • Justice and Inclusion
  • Principle of Non-maleficence and
  • Operationalization of Ethical Guidelines

Concluding comments 

The study recommended that all ethical guidelines on youth football development must be codified and ‘widely circulated’, ethical content should be incorporated in the training of youth development coaches and corporal punishment discouraged with appropriate penal sanctions.

As a pioneering study on the ethics of youth football in Tanzania, the findings are anticipated to be a useful reference for current practice, further investigation and relevant policy makers; Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) and Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The idea that sport has the ability to break down socio-economic barriers is one that the entire Chelsea Group and most particularly, Enigma Alliance, has added to its passion for uplifting individuals and communities through education.

When Enigma Alliance CEO and Honorary Research Fellow, Stuart Page, supported the creation of a Masters in Sports Ethics and Integrity (MAiSI) at Swansea University in Wales, it paved the way for the Enigma Alliance scholarship and subsequent graduation of Ghanaian student, Eric Appiah, who completed his Masters with distinction and has recently accepted a place at a New Zealand university to begin his PhD research. Read more about Eric’s journey here