We all know and have seen that the reach of soccer can be a very powerful tool for positive social change throughout the World, although sometimes it goes far beyond our visual scope. One company looking to make a difference through soccer is Senda Athletics, who have created a new range of soccer balls using Fair Trade tactics. When we get a new ball, we often don’t consider where it has come from and who actually made it. One of Senda’s goals is to ensure that the workers involved in the creation process receive a fair wage, and work in safe and healthy conditions – all while creating soccer balls that performs at the top level in-game. I had an opportunity to test the complete range of balls to see just what they have to offer.
What does Fair Trade Certified mean?
First off, each ball comes with the Fair Trade Certified logo printed on the ball. This means that each ball satisfies the standards required by Trandfair USA. By choosing Fair Trade products, you are directly supporting a better life for workers through fair prices, direct trade, community development and environmental stewardship. Read more about Fair Trade.
In order to find out what these soccer balls have to offer, I used several testing techniques. First, I used them individually to see how they felt for a longer duration. I then took all 3 out for a very long shooting/crossing sessions with some friends. The final step involved taking the Senda balls out with the Nike T90 Tracer and Select Brilliant Super for a direct side-by-side comparison with other competitive soccer balls. The most productive stage was definitely the shooting/crossing session as it gave great insight into how each ball functioned in different situations and how well they performed during a fast paced training.
The Soccer Balls:
- Rapido Premier – This is the top line match ball, designed for play at the highest level. Without a doubt, this ball offers the most natural feel of the bunch, especially when it comes to first touch. The weight of the ball is very well proportioned resulting in a smooth soft touch, with the ball contouring appropriately as you strike it. Also, when playing long balls or shots you get a more controlled feel with ideal dip. It makes for a great ball to hit free-kicks with and is very responsive. Adding to it all, you get a 3-year shape and stitching warranty with the Rapido Premier!
Gold ball, available in size 5, priced at $56.99
- Apex Match – This ball falls just before the line of the top level match ball, probably the ideal choice for high level training sessions when you want a consistent ball. Striking long balls, this ball offers a very similar feel to the top-line Rapido Premier – minus the flight characteristics. You don’t quite get the desired dip on shots, but it does make for a solid strike. During crossing drills, I was able to get a very competitive whip on the ball that stayed consistent.
Red ball, available in size 5, priced at $36.99
- Valor Club – This is the ideal ball for simply knocking around, anytime. Everyone needs to have a ball to simply kick around the garden and not worry about its condition for game day – this is where this one falls. In terms of feel, it offers a slightly airy feel and has an unpredictable nature in the air. Striking shots, I noticed that it stays in flight for a long period and tends to cause problems for keepers. As a practice ball, it is very useful when you want to work on developing close control.
Blue ball, available in sizes 3,4 and 5, priced at $25.99
How do they rate?
When you look at the entire range, one thing is apparent – these balls offer terrific value for money! If you compare them against their competitors by category, each ball is a great option for teams on a budget. Being honest, you don’t get the same high quality as get with balls in the higher price bracket. But, you do get a competitive ball that you know satisfies the requirements of the everyday player, fulfills fair trade expectations and comes in at a much lower, very economical price.
I am glad to have had the opportunity to test the Senda range and I do recommend them to teams that might be looking for a new set of soccer balls. You get competitive performing balls at a very good prices, and you get that feel good factor knowing that the money spent is being used in the appropriate way, reaching and benefiting the people that are involved in the manufacturing process. For those interested, you can buy the entire line-up right from the Senda Website (as reference, team sales are also available.)