Drawing upon data generated by 303 young male footballers employed in 21 professional clubs in England and Wales, this paper explores some key aspects of players’ masculinities, identities and engagement with education. Although many players described their educational experiences in largely negative terms, some aspired towards average-ness, or middling, which are often central to working-class identifications with education. Other players found education ‘easy’, engaged in effortless achievement and had begun to internalize elements of the neo-liberal achievement ideology. The propensity for players to engage in copying and pasting from the work of others, and to regard their courses as being almost impossible to fail, were consistent with neo-liberal ideologies of credentialism and performativity. The findings suggest that a more nuanced understanding of young footballers’ education is warranted, and their aspirations and experiences can at least be partly understood as responses to the prevailing neoliberal learning environments which they inhabit.
- Young Males