Football 'wantok': Sport and social capital in Vanuatu

Tsutomu Kobayashi, Matthew Nicholson, Russell Hoye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports the findings of a study that explored the nexus between sport and social capital in Vanuatu. Specifically, it explored the social networks that operate through football, and the resources that are available to members through these networks. The research involved in-depth interviews with players and administrators within one of the Vanuatu football leagues. The results show that football clubs are sites for significant social capital development, whereby players receive resources such as employment, accommodation, food and transportation, as well as financial incentives and travel opportunities outside Vanuatu. In particular, it is evident that players are able to access employment opportunities that their level of education would not normally make possible. Players secure access to these social networks by gaining the trust of key club administrators and demonstrating their loyalty to the club. The research demonstrates that a type of football wantok exists, which like the traditional wantok, describes a dense social or familial network in which access to essential resources are only available to members of the network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-53
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • football
  • networks
  • resources
  • social capital
  • Vanuatu

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