Footballers aren’t totally unfamiliar with being wrapped in plastic bottles. Any player that has had the displeasure of performing badly in front of a mob of away supporters would have no doubt felt the rain of plastic fall down around them. But once again, Nike is taking that ethos and turning it into something positive, both for the Socceroos and Matildas, along with the planet as a whole.
Just last week, Nike unveiled the new 2020 Australia National Team Kit in partnership with the Football Federation Australia, which has been crafted from 100 per cent recycled polyester from plastic bottles. With Aussie athletes showing off the new kit, fans got their first look at what the two teams will be wearing leading into the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
According to Socceroos star Trent Sainsbury, the unveiling of the new national kit marks another step closer to those massive events. “The plan now is to get back together as a group and start preparing, I know the players are looking forward to it,” he told Man of Many. “When you hear that national anthem start, they say the hairs on the back of your neck stand-up and it’s true. Watching the fans and seeing their passion for the game and for the sport is pretty inspiring.”
With the latest update from Nike, Aussie fans are starting to see the National Kit take a more sustainable approach. According to the brand, since 2010, more than 7.5 billion plastic bottles have been diverted from landfills and waterways, before being transformed into apparel. In this latest edition, we see the Socceroos and matildas return to a more familiar aesthetic, particularly with the away kit, which is reminscent of the 2004 style, the first official kit released by Nike for the Socceroos. Additionally, the Australian National Team Kits are made with Nike’s NextGen Vaporknit.
Nike reportedly drew on data from more than 300 football athletes to create the kit’s high-stretch, anti-cling material. Applying the same principles used in Nike Flyknit
footwear, precision knitting is reinforced where needed while heavily vented in areas prone to heat.
For Sainsbury, a new kit brings up old memories, most notably, the 2015 Asian Cup. “Winning that on home soil and lifting the first-ever trophy for the national team was such a defining moment for Australian Football,” he said. “Along with that was the World Cup in 2018, in particular, that first game against France. It wasn’t necessarily what I did, it was more the response from the fans and from the public. That’s one thing that really stood out to me. It shows the power of football in Australia. It might not be the biggest sport in the country, but it’s definitely growing.”
The new home jersey is a traditional Australian gold, elevated by a green colour-blocked polo collar. Most excitingly, the reintroduction of green shorts gives the athletes a classic home kit that embodies the DNA of Australian football, with the kit completed by gold socks.
Both the home and away kits feature Australian Federation crests on both jersey and shorts. One of the more interesting additions is the jagged side stripe, which extends with a full swing of the leg and transitions into a vibrant yellow stripe on the away kit and a classic green stripe on the home kit.
Surprisingly, Sainsbury revealed that the players themselves had a fair say in the final result. “We did have a bit of say in the design, what pieces we liked and how we could tweak them here and there, but I think they did a fantastic job,” he said. “It’s a super clean, classic look and the fact that it’s gone across the Socceroos to the Matildas as well, that’s a big thumbs up from me.”
Sainsbury has for long been an advocate for equality across men’s and women’s sport, taking an active role in Australia’s 2023 GetOnside bid. With the FIFA Women’s World Cup heading down under in 2023, the tide certainly seems to be turning.
“I just think we’re not living in dark ages. Everybody deserves an equal footing and an equal opportunity,” he says. “When it comes to playing for your country, Australia is at forefront of innovation, this is just another way to make it happen.”
That being said, the initial release did face some criticism. Upon unveiling, fans were quick to point out that women’s sizes were unavailable for the green away jersey. The overwhelming response prompted Nike to quickly reverse the decision, confirming that the away kit would soon be made available in women’s sizes.
“Nike is committed to women’s football and serving our female athletes and consumers with innovative Nike product,” Nike said in a statement. “We are currently retailing the Australia home jersey in a women’s silhouette and, after listening to consumers and fans, the women’s away jersey will be available in the market early in the new year.”
With the team back onside and fans eagerly awaiting the return of football, Nike is just whetting our appetite for a big couple of years of sport. The new Nike 2020 National Team Kit is now available at Rebel Sport for AUD$100.