Football is the most popular sport in the world, partly because the only equipment you need is a ball. But to maximize the sport’s accessibility, especially in poor communities where a deflated ball can mean game over, Japanese design studio nendo has created an alternative to the non-inflatable soccer ball that fits together like a puzzle. .
Working with Molten, a ball supplier for several official sports leagues, nendo’s designers were inspired by makeshift soccer balls that are often created by weaving materials like bamboo. They are non-inflatable and lack the bladder that you will find inside real soccer balls which help give them stiffness and bounce, but the weaving process does put enough tension on the various pieces to that these makeshift balloons provide a very similar experience to what they have. re kicked up and down a football pitch. They don’t last forever, but they retain their shape and bounce back even when worn or damaged.
The nendo ‘soccer kit’ comes flat packed like an IKEA piece of furniture (another plus is that the DIY balls are cheaper and easier to ship) requiring a step-by-step manual to follow to properly assemble the 54 separate pieces into a spherical ball. Instead of natural materials like bamboo, the individual parts of nendo’s non-inflatable ball are made from recycled polypropylene and elastomeric synthetic resin. It makes the ball durable and gives it bounce, but it’s also flexible enough to be soft on the feet when kicked. The specific materials were also chosen because when they break or break, there is less chance of small parts having sharp edges that could cause injury.
The bullet’s modularity also means that if any of the parts break, a repair is as simple as replacing a spare, assuming spares are readily available or included in the kit. Will nendo’s creative design ever replace soccer balls at amateur or professional level? It doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, but the color schemes of the various components can be customized and the balls can be easily branded with logos or sponsors, which is really important in sports, right?