“Female-Friendly” Soccer Ball: Sexist or Safe?

Eir Soccer Ball
The reduced size of the Eir ball (67 cm vs. 68-70 cm) allows a higher speed of game.

Change isn’t easy. It’s always more comfortable to stick with what you’re used to. But what if what you’re used to – the socially accepted norm – is harmful?

Eir Soccer estimates that the average female youth soccer player suffers from one serious injury per season, with the greatest amount of injuries suffered by players 12- to 19-years-old.

Girls participating in competitive youth soccer are also more likely to suffer serious knee injuries and have a higher rate of concussion than boys of the same age.

The cause? A growing number of soccer administrators are casting the blame on the larger and heavier adult soccer balls that are introduced in youth leagues around the age of 12. The heavier ball puts additional pressure on the knee and strains the legs at a time when younger girls are still in the process of maturing physically.

With so many young players getting hurt – is it time to make a change in the world of soccer?

Alan Gould, Executive Director of the Toronto Soccer Association believes that it continues to impact girls through the age of 14, 15 and 16 – an explanation as to why such a large portion of female youth soccer players in those age divisions play wearing either ankle or knee braces.

Recently, Toronto Soccer Association announced their participation in a trial of the EIR Soccer ball. As of January 26, 2015, the EIR Soccer “Sensational” ball is the official game ball of the Girls Under 13 Division for the Toronto District Youth Soccer League.

The EIR ball is smaller (size 2.5), lighter (350-370g) and travels faster than a normal adult soccer ball. It is said to reduce the pressure in the knee from up to 80 percent down to just two percent. Leg strain is reduced by 40 percent. Head acceleration from heading the ball is 17 percent below the concussion point. And ball speed is increased by 13 percent.

So why isn’t everyone jumping on board with this new, safer ball? Even young girls, when presented with the idea of the ball were not as overjoyed as expected. In today’s society where young women are raised to see themselves as equal with their male peers, switching to a smaller ball might be perceived as inferior.

Eir’s response: “Equal rights in soccer does not mean playing with the same size ball as men. We will do whatever it takes to play great and safely.”

What do you think? Should this “female-friendly” soccer ball be tested in the United States next?

Share your opinion in the comments section below!

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Kris Baker

Executive Vice President at Demosphere
Kris Baker is the President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2007.