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Team boots| Latest trends| World Cup
July 2014

The latest

team boot trends

New technologies, colours and designs can be seen on the feet of the top players competing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and in the current rugby test series. YAMKELA MKEBE asked the boot brands what new soccer and rugby boot trends these tournaments inspire for the next season

Sport brands involved in soccer have come out to showcase their new technologies during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. This mega tournament offers brands the opportunity to introduce their new boots and kit to a world TV audience.

The Springbok rugby team is also currently participating in the Castle Lager Incoming Series and in the coming months they will be participating in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and Castle Lager Outgoing Tour. There will therefore be a lot of TV-camera focus on the boots worn by the players on the field.

With the latest soccer and rugby boots so visible on TV, these tournaments provide brands the opportunity to show off and impress with new technologies, colourways, and designs that inspire new trends that will create a demand in the new season.

In the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, bright neon coloured boots were introduced — and became much sought-after after the World Cup. This year, soccer boot brands have again pulled out all the stops to attract attention on the field and fans will, no doubt, want boots representing these latest trends for the new season.

Rugby fans will also be keeping a close eye on the new season boot styles worn by their favourite players in the tests and Tri-nations series. What are the trends to look out for?

Adidas Battle Pack

Adidas introduced their new 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil soccer boots, Battle Pack, to the football world during the UEFA Champions League Final in Lisbon. Battle Pack features five adidas boot ranges, namely adizerof50, Predator, Nitrocharge, 11Pro (not available in South Africa) and adizero f50 Messi.

The 50% black and 50% white colourways on the boots is a visual representation of the brand’s all in or nothing campaign. The disruptive black and white pattern of the boots is to ensure that players stand out on the pitch.

Every aspect of the adizero f50 boot design is based around making the player fast on the soccer field. The boot features SpeedTraxion, a new high speed stud alignment for maximum acceleration and pinpoint changes of direction, and SpeedFoil, which is a revolutionary material combining softness, lightweight and durability offering comfortable locked down heel fit.

Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Karim Benzema (France) and Luis Suarez (Uruguay) are all playing in the adizero f50 during the World Cup.

The Predator is the only Battle Pack boot with a white on black colourway; other boots are all black on white. The boot offers good ball control, touch, accuracy and power. Oscar (Brazil), Mesut Özil (Germany) and Fernando Torres (Spain) are some of the players playing in this boot.

The Nitrocharge boot is designed for the running and tackling player who is The Engine and powers his team. These are the likes of Dani Alves (Brazil) and Javi Martinez (Spain) who are wearing the boot in the World Cup. The Nitrocharge mixes new technologies to improve the way Engines play soccer.

The adizero f50 Messi was specially designed for superstar Leo Messi to wear during the World Cup. It features a combination of revolutionary technologies and precision engineering, with blue — inspired by Argentina’s national colours — added to the black and white colourway.

The Battle Pack is created with the aim of providing high visibility on the pitch and to stand out from the extreme range of colour everyone expects to see in Brazil. “In addition, we wanted to pay homage to a unique Brazilian design and the powers associated with the boots and style of the players wearing them,” says Markus Baumann of adidas SA.

After the World Cup, adidas will be focusing on their Predator boot range, with inspiration from its heritage, as well as the future.

Canterbury for rugby

Rugby brand Canterbury is offering players new boots for the coming season that are made specifically for rugby.

The new CCC Control Club 6 Stud is a versatile all-round boot, featuring a soft synthetic upper with UP micro perforation. It has an improved outsole with reinforcement zones, giving the boot excellent durability and stability in the rear and mid foot.

The Stampede Elite 8 Stud is another boot the brand is focusing on for the new season. This wide, full-grain leather 8-stud boot offers the tight five a comfortable and durable option. It also features enhancements to the mid foot strapping system.

“Support is now the name of the game,” says Evert Ferreira of local distributor Brand ID. The removable sockliner is made from EVA, which has been pre–moulded with perforations to offer better support and comfort.

Mizuno comfort

Mizuno’s Morelia Neo mix doubles as a soccer and rugby boot. The boot is made of the lightest leather for both sport codes. Its fine kangaroo leather upper offers a quilted, luxurious feel. It features a short padded tongue and is made for speed while ensuring comfort, traction, sole flexibility and durability. It weighs only 230gm.

The upper’s stitch line offers a secure fit and enhanced sense of touch and the mixture of soft ground and hard ground studs offer excellent foot holding and comfort.

It features a graded pebax sole plate that offers stability, durability and improved flexibility. This is mainly beneficial to players with major weight reduction.

Brazilian striker Hulk is playing in this boot during the current World Cup held in his home country. Locally, Springbok player, Duane Vermeulen and Bafana Bafana midfielder Hlompho Kekana are also playing in this boot.

Basara is a lightweight (100gm) soccer boot that features a soft supple technical synthetic upper that provide high levels of support. The boot’s cleated outsole has a moulded multi-stud configuration and provides excellent foot support and comfort. Its side panels are carbon-infused for improved strength and support. D-Flex grooves gives support during fast, multi-directional play by efficiently transferring weight and power for a fast shift in direction.

Wave Ignitus III multi-stud is a third generation Ignitus boot with a redesigned and improved Mukaiten panel. This produces lethal non-spin movement, reducing the rotation of the ball to make dead-ball situations more dangerous. The boot is also designed to make it more difficult for goalkeepers to read the ball’s movement in the air as it shifts in the air when kicked from a distance.

This is a soccer and rugby boot with long stub configuration, which Vermeulen has recently played in.

Nike game changers

Nike introduced a series of game changing boots over the last year, which has been seen in the current FIFA World Cup in Brazil, says Seruscka Naidoo from Nike SA. The soccer boots seen in the tournament include the Nike Hypervenom, Nike Tiempo V, Mercurial Superfly and the latest in the series, Nike Magista. These are “revolutionary boots in both performance and design,” she says.

The Magista and Mercurial Superfly feature Nike’s Flyknit technology, which has been the brand’s game changer in running and basketball, and has now been introduced to soccer boots. The Magista boot is designed to boost the creativity of playmakers, while the Mercurial Superfly connects the power and versatility of Flyknit technology for players who want increased speed.

“We began working on the idea of Flyknit and these boots in 2010, because we knew our job would not be done until we gave our players the control and barefoot ball-feel they have longed for,” says Naidoo.

The Flyknit technology in both of these boots enhance three important areas — fit, touch and traction — by promoting foot to foot interface, foot to ball interface and foot to pitch interface. “There is no other technology currently that gets your foot closer to the ball than Fly-knit. It’s as simple as that,” she adds.

However, football isn’t always played in beautiful sunshine. “We knew we had to keep water out of the boot without adding layers that would hamper the touch Flyknit provides. So, we designed and developed a special application of engineered Nikeskin to place over the top of the Flyknit surface,” explains Naidoo. Nikeskin also features the Nike All Conditions Control technology, a treatment on the surface that delivers a great touch, regardless of the conditions.

“Another phenomenal and eye catching innovation in both these boots is the Dynamic Fit Collar. We did not set out to create a high-top football boot, but, because we listen to our athletes, we heard their feedback saying give us a boot with no distraction on the interaction between the foot, the lower leg and boot,” says Naidoo.

The Dynamic Fit Collar provides a natural transition over the wrist, ensuring that movement is not disrupted. “The foot, ankle and lower leg are all connected and need to work together as a single unit,” she says. The Dynamic Fit Collar integrates all the parts, removes distraction, and allows the player to play at a high speed.

“Flyknit‘s lightweight comfort conceals a profound, subtle strength. The cables wrap around the foot like tendons, creating support, without extra layers of material between the foot and the ball,” says Naidoo.

A number of prominent players are wearing Nike boots at the current World Cup. The host country’s star player Neymar, as well as Wayne Rooney (England) are playing in the Hypervenom. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Franck Ribery (France) are using the Mercurial, while the trio, Andres Iniesta (Spian), David Luiz (Brazil) and Mario Gotze (Germany) are playing in the Magista. The Tiempo is worn by Gerard Pique (Spain) and Italian Andrea Pirlo.

Olympic’s new designs

Olympic’s new range of soccer boots feature new designs, new colours and new technical excellence. Bright colours, inspired by the World Cup in Brazil, dominate the new boot designs, and they have done away with the dull black and white boot colours.

Both their soccer and rugby boots include “bright colour cosmetic trends that are here to stay for a few more years!” says brand manager Miles O’Brien of distributor Jordan & Co. The upper construction of their boot designs remain focused on using the strongest and lightest man-made materials.

In addition, a series of other technologies are featured in the new boot range. “Then follows the meticulous stitching, the sealing of joining seams, and the embossing of colour overlays by means of tip top high frequency welding systems,” he explains. The newly designed sole units feature a highly technical blade and multi-stud designs. These soles are tested by the Olympic manufactures, assisted by players, to perfect field direction control. This is to ensure foot stability on the run and excellent grip under all turf conditions, says O’Brien.

From summer 2014, Olympic has redesigned and re-engineered all the sport shoe boxes. This bravely combines many new colour combinations. Each colour box is linked to the type of sport category of the shoe in that box. This makes finding your sport shoes a lot easier! These new box designs boldly display the sparkling and popular six Olympic rings that were originally on all Olympic soccer and rugby boots in previous decades, he says.

“Our soccer boots will be presented in a serious, black box colour, with an electric touch of green and white as highlights. This new box colour project also follows through to our advertising, and recalls Olympic’s heritage in South Africa.”

Olympic presents both rugby and soccer players with the boots they requested at their design team strategy meetings. This included the need to develop the lightest boot to run in, but at the same time, retain the required strength and comfort, he adds.

Puma’s Tricks

Puma introduced their Tricks range of evoPower and evoSpeed boots, with the right boot in pink and the left boot in blue.

“Our 2014 Tricks range is simple and commercial, and its simplicity is why we were so secretive. New styling and new colour pops always make the athlete stand out and play well on the field as Puma zig while others zag,” says Gavin Benjamin of Puma SA.

The evoPower Tricks boot design was inspired by the vivid Brazilian culture and nature. The boot is designed to improve kicking power and accuracy, while ensuring visibility on the pitch with its colour combination. The upper of the boot is made from the Japanese synthetic Adap-Lite, which is lightweight and stretchable.

The evoSpeed Tricks boot 1.2 has a special upper pattern that is also inspired by the Brazilian lifestyle and culture. The boot’s upper is made of premium mono-layer microfiber with the internal EverFit cage. The star of the Nature of Believing campaign, which is the theme behind the release of these boots, is featured on the special pattern on the boot’s upper.

Both evoPower and evoSpeed are specifically designed for soccer, but can also be used by rugby players — depending on the player’s position. The Brazilian culture and nature also had a major influence on the colours Puma opted for in their Tricks range. Brazil’s diversity and beautiful, vibrant, lively, astonishingly bright and colourful flowers also played its part in inspiring the brand to produce these boots.

“All Brazilians willingly take part in festive occasions and greet their friends and relatives with beautiful Brazilian flowers,” elaborates Benjamin.

The boots are suitable for all soccer players, but the evoSpeed is recommended especially for strikers and wingers, while the evoPower is especially suitable for center midfielders and defenders, he explains.

Some of the soccer stars who have played in these boots during the World Cup tournament include Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Mario Balotelli (Italy), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Diego Godin (Uruguay), Marco Reus (Germany), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), and others.

Puma also introduced the evoPower 3 Rugby H8 performance boot, the latest edition to the brand’s rugby range made for rugby players of all levels. The boot comes in black, white and fluro yellow colours. The reinforced upper of the boot features a soft synthetic material with embossed details on the vamp, which helps with keeping the boot lightweight and comfortable.

“The boot features lightweight PU that’s cleated on the outsole with DuoFlex technology with aluminium cleats for enhanced grip,” says Benjamin.

Their evoSpeed boots are aimed at rugby wingers and back line players or full backs. For fly-halfs, back line or full backs, the evoPower is recommended.

Umbro’s camo Geoflair

Umbro’s Geoflare 2 Pro Camo boot is designed for the player looking for speed, extravagance and flare. The most noticeable feature is its camo design in different colours. This feature, together with the shape and functional details of the boot, makes it different from its predecessor.

“After much research and development, we decided that in order to create an optimum fit, we needed to change the shape of the front toe area,” says Tristan Karakashian of Umbro SA. “We have made it a far narrower fit and have eliminated extra space left around the toe. This allows players to have more control and a closer touch with the ball when dribbling and kicking.”

The instep area of the boot has been slightly tightened to ensure better control and comfort and the upper is made of thin and soft Umbro skin, which ensures control, comfort and speed. This new upper technology “is an exclusive san fang microfiber synthetic composition that mimics the feel of natural leather,” explains Karakashian.

While the previous Geoflare only focused on enhancing grip detailing of the striking zone, the new Geoflare 2 Pro features textured, functional, details on the entire instep and striking zone for enhanced grip in all areas.

The colour coordination of the boot is “ideal for the flare player that is making things happen for his team”. The design has an in your face Umbro logo and is fused with camo laces to compliment the design. The boot features a neon sprint plate, which is Umbro’s fastest offering and is accompanied with a chrome heel logo also for enhanced visibility.

“The boot reflects a graphic take on the current love of 90’s nostalgia and abstract camo, which is a major trend in the fashion world,” says Karakashian.

Every Umbro boot silo has a different focus and meets different needs and requirements of players. The brand’s target is to create boots that make outlandish gestures, because they realise that a player’s appearance both influences and reflects their style of play, he explains. “Our 90 years’ history gives us a lot to look back on in terms of graphics and design, and we can use the past to inform the present.”

England and Manchester City goalkeeper, Joe Hart, is Umbro’s main sponsored player in the World Cup. Umbro’s sponsored players also have an option of playing in the Umbro UX-1, which is a heavier boot, focused on power, accuracy and comfort that Umbro introduced prior to the World Cup.

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