Soccer's Lost Boys
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Soccer's Lost Boys

2010, Sports  -   12 Comments
Ratings: 8.08/10 from 26 users.

It is a proud time to be a young African soccer player. Not only was Africa hosting its first ever World Cup, but for the first time, some of the sport's biggest stars are African. Many of them grew up playing on fields, dreaming of fame and fortune on soccer's biggest stage. Everyone want to go to Europe. That is the hope. But there are those who are exploiting that hope. There is definitely trafficking of young people, which are bold and sold like cattle.

Thousands of young players are being lured from their homelands. Their families conned out of what little savings they might have by predatory agents, making promises that will almost certainly go unfulfilled. The boys are often abandoned, broke and alone. Africa is ripe because Africa is poor. Soccer is glory and soccer is money. Mariana van Zeller travelled from the dirt fields of West Africa, to the immigrant ghettos of Morocco, and finally to the Black Market games of Paris, in search of soccer's lost boys.

Francis Tamba is a 17-year-old, from the West African nation of Guinea Conakry. He's a soccer player, or to the rest of the world, a footballer. He prays to become like Didier Drogba and one day to play for Chelsea. That's his biggest dream in life. Drogba was a goal scoring machine for Chelsea in England. He's a global superstar and a millionaire in many times over. His success has fueled the ambition of an entire generation of young African's, including Francis.

Francis thought he'd taken the first big step towards his dream of soccer stardom. While training in his native Guinea, he was approached by a soccer agent who said Francis was so talented that he could get him a tryout with Atletico Madrid, one of the big teams in Spain. He told him that he should come to Morocco and later he will continue on to Spain. Francis says, "It was the happiest day of his life," but there was a catch… the agent demanded an upfront fee of $4,000 for travel and other expenses. Pinning the family's hopes of Francis, his father agreed to pay. But when Francis arrived in Morocco, the agent disappeared.

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12 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jar Jar Binks

    Most of the people who wrote these comments have no lives. Except for Heini Mortenson lol.

  2. Heini Mortensen

    What's with the "soccer" lol! Stop calling it that! It's just childish :D How about changing American "Football" to "fast-running helmet-rugby".

  3. Jabranpin

    West Africa is a God forsaken place.

  4. Alex Rascanu

    It's football, believe me....

  5. Jacek Walker

    Very strange world that of Africa... People there dying of starvation en masse and young African boys dreaming of becoming a football star one day. Seems that things are not so bad there after all; and to add up some tribes fighting each other with guns ceaselessly over stupidities.
    Ah silly me, and I always thought that African main concern were food and water...

    1. manchesterblue

      yeah i know right...

      how dare they dream to escape the spirit crushing reality of their existence?

      god forbid some of them might even go further and get an education!!

      then where would we be?

    2. Jacek Walker

      I am not talking about education.
      In fact education is now the key for African people to get in touch with reality and not to become victims of greedy corporates . Meanwile what these boys are trying is an ego trip for fame and easy money. I understand their dreams but they are being misled by crooks and exploiters.
      And yes you're right - this is exacly why education is so important BEFORE they venture into a "wicked big world".

    3. manchesterblue

      I suspect any of these kids would cling onto any chance they could get to raise themselves out of poverty but thats probably as far removed from their minds as it can be. You think soccer is all about ego trips and easy money? Youre reading too many red tops. Yes there is a culture of greed in the top echelons of the sport, as in any other. However, in grass roots associations there is a camaraderie and sense of involvement that is far removed from what you seem to imagine is impressed upon them. Not everyone wants to exploit them and the vast majority will have a positive experience.

      If some of these kids are given the opportunity to remove themselves albeit just for a few hours from the abject hopelessness of their own lives, who would deny them? If they are given the chance to belong to something and learn how to compete, co operate and work for each other, that is an education in itself

    4. Dee Dee

      Easy money???? Wanting something to lift you , your family and your community out of crushing poverty, using a talent/skill that you have is egotistic and wanting easy money?? WTF?

  6. dmxi

    always eerie how our imperial past can be detected in the nuances of leaches through our use of language when oozing sympathy regarding the issues of the 'third world' but ignore the still existing rape our system condones on africas inhabitants & earthly riches!

    1. xyz

      Really? How about the African hordes of savages playing havoc on the white/European civilization? How about the violence against white farmers from South Africa and Zimbabwe? How about the Liberal Marxism who's kissing minorities up their a**es in the detriment of the white race?

    2. dmxi

      mmmh,so you 'suffer' under the imperial fruits of your invasive forefathers?now 'YOU' are a minority?there is so much in what you are not saying that you give away your real mindset...that it is truly disturbing!don't forget to 'barb' your 'wires' if you try to find easy sleep(a pistol under the cushion is a bit knobby,innit?)!

      -an ex-savage...thanks to 'whitey',tired of using a whip-