In a significant development for female footballers, a recent study conducted by the European Club Association (ECA) has shed light on the discomfort experienced by 82 percent of women players across Europe while wearing traditional football boots. These findings have prompted the need for revolutionizing female football boots to address the unique anatomical characteristics of female feet.
The ECA’s research involved comprehensive foot scans and interviews with 350 female club footballers throughout Europe, and the results emphasize the necessity for two new boot designs tailored specifically for women. Unlike their male counterparts, female feet not only tend to be smaller but also exhibit higher arches and different heel shapes.
The study, led by Dr. Katrine Kryger from St. Mary’s University, acknowledges that football boots cannot entirely prevent injuries such as the recent increase in ACL ruptures in women’s football. However, it emphasizes that comfort and choice should be fundamental rights for all female footballers. Interestingly, Dr. Kryger’s research also highlighted the influence of ethnicity on foot shape. Nevertheless, she remains optimistic that the proposed two boot designs will cater to the needs of the majority of players. Dr. Kryger also aims to freely share her research with boot manufacturers, envisioning a future where football for girls and women becomes more comfortable, while also promoting awareness around injury prevention.
Claire Bloomfield, the Head of Women’s Football at the ECA, is determined to emphasize that this initiative is not a mere gimmick but marks the beginning of vital research into addressing the requirements of female footballers.
This research assumes greater significance in light of an exclusive investigation conducted by Sky Sports News, which revealed that teenagers engaged in grassroots sports today are 29 times more likely to require ACL knee reconstruction surgery compared to two decades ago. Girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to such injuries, necessitating further research into the factors contributing to serious knee injuries like ACL ruptures.
Nike is one brand that has prioritized the needs of femal players, recently unveiled the Phantom Luna, the result of extensive research and consultation with women players. This design represents Nike’s most thoroughly researched women’s-led football boot to date and has been tailored specifically to cater to female footballers’ requirements.
The Phantom Luna boasts several innovative features. Notably, it incorporates larger touch zones to optimize boot-to-ball connection, as the women’s game often revolves around attacking as a team and demands more touch passes in general. Moreover, the boot’s anatomical design pays particular attention to the female ankle, featuring a lower cuff for better accommodation. Simultaneously, a higher collar enhances lockdown, thereby reducing rotational traction at the knee and mitigating the risk of ACL injuries for both men and women.
To address variations in arch height, the Phantom Luna offers a range from flat foot to high arch. Additionally, the design tackles Achilles irritation by incorporating high cuff heels, which minimizes break-in time during fast-paced matches. Finally, in a bid to enhance on-pitch performance, the Phantom Luna introduces the Cyclone 360, a new and innovative circular stud pattern that enables players to move with greater agility, precision, and security.
The introduction of customized football boots specifically designed for female players highlights a positive step towards providing greater comfort, reducing the risk of injuries, and promoting inclusivity within the women’s game. Through ongoing research and collaborative efforts, the football industry is actively working towards creating an environment that prioritizes the well-being and performance of female athletes.