With the FIFA Women’s World Cup on the horizon, Deploy Football is supporting women and girls of all ages to get involved in the game.
As Australia and New Zealand are showcased on the world stage, it’s a reminder as to the size of the sport and the growth of the women’s game.
Having partnered with leading state federations and clubs across Australia, Deploy is the go-to place to get women’s teamwear, apparel and equipment.
Predictably, there is set to be a boom in participation at least in the aftermath of the tournament, with Deploy catering for an already-popular sporting code.
Chief Commercial Officer of Deploy Sports, Kurt Johnson, spoke to Soccerscene about the need for tailor-made products and resources.
You specalise in two main areas, the first being footballs themselves – tell us about the developments you’ve made for young players coming through the ranks?
Kurt Johnson: As a brand, Deploy has always had a focus on junior development, but also safety.
We differ from larger brands in the fact that our balls sometimes are on the softer side. We do that because it does assist community footballers in general, but specifically females in terms of the touch, the control and how the ball is played both off the feet and off the head.
We are constantly developing different textures and different weights, with unique cushions of balls.
One thing we’ve been really at the global forefront of in recent years is developing junior training aids for footballs, that come in lighter versions.
We’re also working on footballs that can be used moreso in training, that are less in weight but still bounce and play like a traditional football. This specifically helps girls, because having a lighter product is better for their development and makes the game more enjoyable for them.
Thinking about the growth in participation for the girls’/women’s side, where does your teamwear fit in?
Kurt Johnson: For our teamwear, we have a complete female cut or female range for both on field and off field products.
We do this because female football is more in demand now and that they must have specific garments for their bodies. That’s imperative for clubs.
These days, most clubs won’t engage with a teamwear provider unless they provide specific female cuts.
So that’s one thing we’ve really invested in over the last few years – developing female cuts with female footballers, that’s for all shapes and sizes as well.
You currently have a product called Heading Pro, what does that involve?
Kurt Johnson: This is the product we have on the market at the moment and it was specifically designed for head education.
Our theory in developing this ball was based on rather than just banning heading of footballs, which they’ve done in other countries, we’ve taken the approach that we should educate people about the correct technique.
When you come to a real game, rather than hitting it off your nose or off the top of your head, you’re actually hitting it in the correct technique and neck position.
Concussion in sport is a major talking point – what has Deploy done to address this?
Kurt Johnson: This topic is the key reason why we developed a Heading Pro football, where it’s a 40% lighter ball which has been used in studies by the University of New South Wales. Their research has identified that the heading pro ball that it reduces head impact by up to 40%, as opposed to a standard size five football.
So that’s just one of the products that we have on the market that’s specifically designed for head impact, head education and the effects of concussion.
Additionally, we have a product called Headstrong. It’s a unique and comfortable headgear specific for football, as opposed to the Rugby type headwear that’s on the market. This is for players who are either conscious of their head protection, or those who are forced to wear protection from previous injuries.
We also support Boob Armour as a reseller of their product, where they offer protective breast inserts for female footballers that they can use, especially as there’s impact around the breast area.
Are there any trends you’ve observed in buyer behaviour from the Women’s World Cup?
Kurt Johnson: We’ve noticed a significant increase in ball sales from our clubs, purely due to participation increases.
As a football provider, we at Deploy have seen the direct result – I don’t know if you call it from the Women’s World Cup (I’d like to hope so), but there is definitely an increase in participation this season.
We’ve seen a huge increase in football sales, especially at the younger age groups, because there’s a lot more size threes sold than there normally would be.
In terms of the Women’s World Cup impact, I honestly can’t judge that just yet. I think there’ll be more flow-on effects after the tournament, rather than prior.
We might need to revisit this question in 12 months’ time to get a fully accurate picture.