Saturday, June 24, 2006

Boot Designers would prefer to be there

Now down to the last 16 and in the second stage Nike are sponsoring more teams (5), followed by adidas (4) Puma (3), Umbro (2),and Lotto and Marathon sharing one each. With Portugal and Netherlands and Spain and France the only opposing teams to sport the same sponsor Nike and adidas respectively.

Germany (adidas) vs Sweden (Umbro)
Argentina (adidas) vs Mexico (Nike)
Italy (Puma) vs Australia (Nike)
Switzerland (Puma) vs Ukraine (Lotto)
England (Umbro) vs Ecuador (Marathon)
Portugal (Nike) vs Netherlands (Nike)
Brazil (Nike ) vs Ghana (Puma)
Spain (adidas) vs France (adidas)

Most of this year’s Puma sponsored players are wearing grass camo boots . Like other World Cup 2006 these are ultra light and Puma’s lightest football boot to date. It has a super thin 0.4mm thick upper (ConTec). The outsole integrates anatomical stud positioning with pointed soft ground studs, designed to offer the better grip, maneuverability and rear foot stability, according to the manufacturers. Players wearing the grass camo boots are England’ s Peter Crouch, Yaya Toure, and Francisco José da Costa, better known as Costinha . The hi-tech Puma Grass Camo boots are coloured green to match the pitch. Makers suggest the boots help boost speed and agility abd their colour makes them hard to spot against the turf. Although following the bouncing ball would give an incredible advantage, to even the most short sighted defender. Puma’s biggest claim to soccer fame was boot endorsement from Brazil’s superstar Pele and Argentinean genius, Maradona . Puma remain manufacturers of quality soccer boots but remain very much in the shadow of adidas. Brother Adi and Rudolf Dassler fell out in 1948 and Rudolf started Puma as a rival company operating from the same Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, Something Adi and his brother shared was a love for sport and the realisation neither would ever compete on the field. Instead they had the skills and foresight to design boots which would allow gifted players to soar. This is the same dream all football boot designers share including Australian Con Hatzilias . He too realised he did not have talent to ever play in the games highest competition but had the brains to design boots which might eventually get there. Of course Con is not the first Australian to seek the same goal although Craig Johnson (former Liverpool ) was an outstanding player during his career and went onto design the adidas predator . David Miers had other motivation for his Blade designed boot and although he is an agricultural scientist as a youth David was dogged by injury which influenced his playing career. Determined to improve the boot he eventually replaced the studs with a series of diagonal blades. When he realised this was a breakthrough in boot design he tried to interest sports companies in new invention. Like Johnson before him he experienced much resitance and reluctance to pick up his new design. Thanks mainly to AFL players Peter Daicos and Simon Madden cautioned against playing in the boots, their faith was such that they continued to play in blades. Simon Madden painted stripes on his boots to disguise them. When he was spotted wearing them the sponsor fined his club for breach of contract. The boots are now part of a sport museum exhibition where you can see the little stripes very poorly painted on them. Eventually the benefits of blade style cleats were recognized and now al the major companies include them within their premier range of boots across the football codes.

No comments: