This article analyses one of the key features of the increased trading of African football labour since the 1990s, the establishment of football ‘academies’ in Africa. The article begins by setting out a broad explanatory framework that articulates the transit of African footballers to Europe and the role of football academies in this process as a form of neo-colonial exploitation and impoverishment of the developing world by the developed world. A brief account of the history, geography, economics and consequences of African football talent migration to Europe follows. The main focus of the article is the construction of a typology of football academies in Africa and an analysis of their role in the export African football labour. The article concludes by analysing the key challenges that the growth of football academies has posed for the African game and outlines ways that these challenges might be addressed.