(Un)becoming Mountain Tigers Football Club: an ethnography of sports among the Western Cape’s farm workers

DOI: 10.1080/23323256.2017.1396190
Author(s): Tarminder KaurInstitute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, University of the Free State, South Africa


In 1999, farm workers at commercial farms in Louwshoek valley, Western Cape, founded the Mountain Tiger Football Club (MTFC). In addition to playing self-organised (unofficial) football for money (or other stakes), the MTFC had a stint of competing in the local (official) football league and some team members participated in sporadic sports development events. While official and unofficial football was central for the MTFC in becoming a football club, it was in becoming development recipients that the MTFC had to undo itself, had to unbecome. Development discourses were built on tropes of addressing workers’ social marginality and of the power of sports to deter workers from alcohol abuse and idling. Farm workers also affirmed, appropriated and mobilised these discourses, but to multiple and contradictory ends. In presenting an ethnography of (un)becoming MTFC, I examine how the occupations and identities of the football club’s members as farm workers affected and were affected by their sporting and “development” experiences.

Get new issue alerts for Anthropology Southern Africa