One of the current bones of contention within football as a global sport is that it trails behind other sports in regards to technology.
With rugby, tennis, cricket and other high-profile entertainment, they all currently grasp whatever high-end innovations that are to hand in order to benefit the sport and ensure that justice plays just as big a part in events as the entertainment itself.
Football though, is just about coming to terms with goalline technology, never mind utilising video references to see that huge decisions are called correctly. With the influx of exorbitant money comes the underlined necessity for these decisions to be infallible. The ramifications can be devastating otherwise.
Football is archaic in its approach, but in other areas, it is way ahead of the curve. Take the once humble football boot.
From its humble beginnings as merely an accessory worn to ensure toes were not broken when kicking the swollen and rigid leather ball, now they are alien in comparison to their dated siblings.
The never ending quest to find the sweetest of spots to strike the ball has led to some crazy calls and designs, and now to even name them ‘boots’ seems incongruent. They seem to resemble an elvish slipper, crafted from an angel’s sigh and offering zero protection whatsoever in order to maximise the ability of the player.
Where is the middle ground? Well, The Hot Stepanovs does not rest until answers are found. I delved deep and have found a man who has shunned the current trend for gaudy footwear made entirely from the skin of a butterfly.
Yet he has also claimed it is lightweight and allows for skills, tricks and flicks to be just as optimal as ever.
Where is this heaven-sent boot? I spoke to boot designer Scott Michaels to get the info.
Hi Scott. First thing’s first. Your path did not exactly lead to designing football boots! How did you find yourself up to this point?
Scott – When I was fifteen, i used to play football five times a week. I remember all the cool brands of football boots the Premier League footballers were wearing at the time. I have always followed the different styles and brands closely. Now looking into the industry, I see most of these stylish independent boots have disappeared from the professional market.
From 18 years old, I ran my own hairdressing salon for ten years, I then started up a hairstyling brand called Hairbond. Hairbond is currently the largest British hairstyling brand in the World with over £20m retail value sold since we launched in 2010.
Through Hairbond consumer marketing, I used my passion for professional football which got me back involved in the game again and reignited my passion. With top Premier League players regularly promoting our products through social media it gave me the opportunity to create Hairbond photo shoots with Simon Mignolet and James Anderson as brand ambassadors.
What makes your boot so special?
Scott – Our Heirship Seventeen is a premium heritage concept, built with new age technology, and getting the right product material was the most important part.
I have been working with a team comprised of sport scientists and professional footballers to design the boot.
We have sampled hundreds of materials from extremely lightweight carbon fibre (which gets damaged very easily), to old school Kangaroo leather (which is in my opinion unethical).
The chosen material is Japanese Super Micro Fibre. This state of the art synthetic is – in my opinion – the best in the world for high performance professional football boots.
It’s more durable than premium leather and moulds better to the foot. Our first release – the Heirship Seventeen – is also very lightweight when compared to alternatives and we have embossed ‘texture vents’ to enable a greater feel of the ball.
There will be a mixed stud boot for soft ground, and an Astro sole version, for artificial pitches launching this summer in a classic black as well as a Limited Edition white/gold edition. We are also planning a hard ground bladed technology release in both colours and a children’s edition later on in the year.
Your area of expertise seems to be marketing. How do you plan to ensure your wares reach the relevant parties – the footballers who will give your boot the platform it needs?
Scott – We already have over 100 professional players globally desperately waiting to try the boots and unlike most brands in the game we are not paying any players to wear the boots.
For professional football players, football boots are more than just a boot, they are the tool of their trade. We want footballers to choose our boots and the durability, comfort and performance of the need to be prioritised.
How much research went into making sure your offerings were the best they could be?
Scott – I have spent the last 12 months researching the very best global manufacturers and sourcing materials to make the boots innovative. All prototype samples were then sent out to a dozen active professionals to test through the rigors of training. I then worked with a premium shoe designer in Italy and the first boot Heirship Seventeen was born. We are launching them in 1 colour ways – classic black and a Matchmakers limited edition white and gold edition – to celebrate the brands launch in 2017.
Do you think that your competitors boots are a factor in the frequency of injuries on the pitch? Was it a factor in the manufacture of yours?
Scott – Yes, injury prevention was something we have had to consider whilst designing the boots. I also believe a boot that provides more support is vital but without too much weight. Some players are playing 50 games a season and are running 12k per game. This is where our focus is regarding performance as we look at a footballers foot comfort over a marathon not a sprint. After thorough research, we believe that we have the right balance with the H17 boot which is still light weight but has the durability and comfort factor.
What is the next step for you, and what is the ultimate aim?
Scott – To position Matchmakers as the designer labelled boot brand in football. We also see Matchmakers as a premium niche alternative to mass market sports brands. I believe with the boot technology and the swagger of Matchmakers we have something different to the rest. I also think with my marketing experience dealing with the same demographic will help us in new ways to market our products. I also think our immediate success in football boots could lead us into other sports such as both codes of rugby and golf.
It will be very interesting to watch the progress of this brand, especially with the advances this boot boasts of.
Please check out stylomatchmakers.com in April for more information on this fantastic product.