Change We Can Believe In
Never ones to dip our toes too deep into the dark and murky waters of global politics, at a time when so many people are looking to the future and wondering what change Barack Obama’s election as US president will bring, we thought it important for us to turn our own attention to the future of an area of even greater global importance: the world of goalkeeping products.
This week, focusing on uhlsport’s revolutionary – really – Akkurat goalkeeper glove design, we gaze off towards the horizon and consider for a moment one major recent development that may well alter the future of goalkeeping equipment.
OK, so we are probably as guilty as anybody else of proclaiming every week’s latest release as “the next revolution”, or “a turning point in goalkeeping product design”. But with the Akkurat we feel a bit like the Boy Who Cried Wolf – this time we mean it!
Let’s start with the uhlsport spiel:
“The Akkurat. A revolutionary, very tight-fitting goalkeeper glove with half-negative seams. For a direct ball contact and advanced ball control. Tight-fitting and ergonomically adjusted palm: newly developed two-colour palm made of Absolutgrip latex with an additional pulse cushioning backhand. Newly developed hook and loop fastener-closure with long flap and pulse protection.
Almost lost in this outstanding example of goalkeeping product jargon is the very uniqueness of the Akkurat innovation.
Essentially, what is really important about the Akkurat design is the focus uhlsport have placed on stripping away all unnecessary bulk from the glove – not merely taking weight out of the backhand, but removing excess latex foam from the palm side of the glove, in areas where glove-to-ball contact is minimal.
The desired effect of this is to take the glove design right back to basics – an extremely comfortable, close fitting glove, with the addition of latex foam palm and backhand material precisely where it is needed, not elsewhere.
The body of the glove, from a tight-fitting but stretchy fabric, is constructed with half negative seams in the fingers – meaning part of the stitching is inside of the glove – giving the gloves an even tighter and closer fit.
The development follows clearly the recent popularity of negative cut gloves – with the likes of Van Der Saar, Cech, James and Casillas now all' choosing negative cut gloves (for adidas, adidas, HO SOCCER and Reebok respectively) – and uhlsport looks to build on the essence of the design that has made the negative cut model so popular with top players.
The ‘Aquasoft’ version of the Akkurat glove, for wet weather conditions
The removal of inessential features of the glove, as well as giving it an exceptionally close fitting and natural feel on the hand, make the glove remarkably light weight. Not first choice, then, for keepers who prefer outsize bulky roll finger gloves, but a real alternative for keepers who prefer a much more natural fit.
So is the Akkurat here to stay? Many a goalkeeper is typically quite a conservative-minded fellow – it goes with the territory – and won’t necessarily be quick to embrace change like this. But you don’t have to have the risk appetite of Rene Higuita to see the obvious advantages an innovation like the Akkurat offers: we think it has a great chance of taking off in a big way.