Sine Agergaard & Lars Tore Ronglan

Vol. 6 2015, pages 1–26
Published April 28, 2015


The conditions for national sport systems and talent development efforts are changing with the globalisation of sports. In the present study we explored the relationship between domestic talent development and the immigration of players from abroad through a comparative multiple-case study of Danish and Norwegian women’s handball. Quantitative data demonstrated how there has been a remarkable increase in not only the number, but also the performance level of immigrant players arriving into Danish women’s handball, in particular, in the first decade of the 2000s. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 experienced coaches and sport directors who have in-depth knowledge of group dynamics in elite handball. Using Lave and Wenger’s theory of situated learning in communities of practice the analysis demonstrated the ambiguous consequences of considerable immigration on the position and learning situation of domestic talent. Inbound trajectories of domestic talent may be supported by apprenticeship from many skilled role models (e.g. immigrant players), while an outbound trajectory may also appear, specifically if the young domestic players are continually hampered from participation in matches. It seems that it is not the high number of players from abroad, per se, that may block the development of local young talent, but first and foremost the structuring of training and match practices in the clubs and national leagues.

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About the Authors

SINE AGERGAARD is a social anthropologist and Associate Professor at Section for Sport Science at the Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research on migration and integration issues within sports has received various research grants, and her work has been published in a number of articles and books. Most recently, Agergaard was the main editor of Women, Soccer and Transnational Migration (Routledge 2014). She is a member of the editorial boards of International Review for the Sociology of Sport and Sportsworld. The Journal of Global Sports. She is the co-founder and currently head of the International Network for Research in Sport and Migration Issues (spomi-net) involving researchers from Europe, the North and South America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

LARS TORE RONGLAN is Associate Professor in sport at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, and vice rector at the school. In addition, he holds a position as visiting Associate Professor at Sogn og Fjordane University College. His PhD was a sociological analysis of performance groups in elite sport with a specific focus on Norway’s national handball team for women. The past decade his research interest has been sociocultural studies of sports coaching, talent development, and the Scandinavian sports model. He has published a number of scientific articles, book chapters and books, among them The sociology of sports coaching (Routledge 2011) and Managing elite sport systems (Routledge 2015). Ronglan has been coaching several handball teams over the past 25 years.


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