Footballs – they’re round, full of air, and you kick them into the back of the net. That’s all there is to it, isn’t it? Well, in one way, it is – but there’s a lot of thought and innovation that goes into the creation of a football that does exactly what it should do. With the Neo 2 ball set to be used for the first time this Saturday in the FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Chelsea, it’s probably a good time to look at exactly how our footballs are constructed.
The Neo 2, as its name suggests, is an evolution of the original Neo ball, which has been used throughout the FA Cup this season. Throughout its use in the competition, our designers worked with the footballers that were playing with the ball to get their opinions on how well it worked. As their feedback was overwhelmingly positive, we knew that we didn’t need to change too much about the Neo, just adapt it to fit with the latest in design innovation.
That’s why the unique 14-panel TPU outer casing, which gives a faster, truer flight of the ball and a larger strike zone has been retained, but a special new graphic has been created which helps players to understand the speed and spin of the ball. (TPU, by the way, stands for Thermoplastic Polyuerthane, in case you were wondering…)
As well as helping players see it better, the graphic printed onto the Neo 2 is also indebted to the unique culture of the FA Cup – our designers were inspired by the lettering on this certificate given to the Cup’s founder CW Alcock, which is now the property of the National Football Museum. Just another example of how football’s culture and history can be combined with the very latest in design to create something special!
Underneath that outer casing, the Neo 2 features a high density foam lining which helps the ball to keep its shape and maintain a natural level of bounce. Under that is the bladder, made of natural rubber in order to be durable but lightweight, given how much force will be used to whack the ball around Wembley on Saturday evening.
So, while for players and fans a ball can seem like just a ball, and it’s important that you can just concentrate on your game during an important match, underneath all that there’s a lot going on! Something to think about when you see the Neo 2 nestling in the corner of the net in a few days time…