The cleaning of boots has becoming something of a time-honoured tradition amongst seasoned professional football players.
For many who have scaled the heights of this great game, the memories of cleaning boots as a youngster was a humbling reminder of where they started, and considered an important lesson in the requirements of discipline and respect that grounded them on their way to the top.
In the modern day, it is not often you see elite youth players cleaning the boots of the professional peers, but former Socceroo and Melbourne Victory star Billy Celeski says cleaning their own boots is an important discipline for players who dream of playing professionally.
It was that thought process that saw Celeski identify a business opportunity and one that he has pounced on with the launch of his new boot-cleaning product, Bootlab 101.
“I wanted something that would teach kids about the importance of respecting the tools of their trade,” he told Soccerscene.
“And that’s what boots are. They are our tools, and as players we have to take care of them.”
The Bootlab 101 Boot Brush is a visually striking product.
It wouldn’t look out of place amongst the high-tech, high-design aesthetic of an Apple store.
But when it comes to Celeski’s Boot Brush, its ingenuity is in its simplicity.
A 300 ml bottle with a squeeze valve attached to a brush.
Simply fill the bottle with water, squeeze to release the water onto the boot and use the brushes to scrub them clean. Simple!
No more dragging muddy boots through the house to laundry and no more excuses from brining muddy boots into the clubhouse.
Celeski – who was a creative force on the field as a player – said however simple its application, the conception, design and manufacture of the brush was meticulously planned and carried out.
“Initially when we looked at what we could do, the research was based on looking at what kids get when they signup for a club or an academy,” he said.
“You get your kit, you get your drink bottle and maybe some merch, which is great, but what are we giving them to teach them about the importance of caring for the tools they use to play?
“I wanted to come up with a device or product that was going to trigger them to ensure they looked after those tools.
“At the end of the day, parents spend a lot of money on registration and boots and being able to take care of those boots is an important lesson for kids to learn about having respect for what their parents do for them, and a good discipline to get into when it comes to respecting themselves as well.”
Celeski employed the services of an industrial designer to bring his vision to life and said that with the product now on the market, the feedback has been great.
The brush is already in the hands of A-League and W-League stars and internationals like Jamie Maclaren and Melissa Barbieri, and Celeski said first impressions have been good.
“We gave a couple out to some professionals just to get some feedback and the flow on from that has been great,” he said.
“The feedback is good and we are getting professionals from overseas who are getting in touch with us and buying the product for themselves.
“Hopefully if we can show that it’s good enough for the professionals, then the clubs and academies and players will want it for themselves as well.”
Celeski said the Boot Lab 101 was working with a number of clubs to make the Boot Brush a part of the kit they provide players.
“We’re speaking to a couple of A-League clubs and there’s a lot of interest from NPL clubs as well, because they have players from under-7s right up to their seniors,” he said.
“We’ve cast the net far and wide and now that the product is out there and people are starting to get it in their hands and see how effective it is we’re getting good feedback.
“Players can clean their boots on the spot and leave all that mud and dirt on the ground where it’s meant to be and out of their clubrooms, their lawns or their laundry.”
With B2B a core focus of Boot Lab 101’s sales strategy, Celeski confirmed his company is looking at the best branding possibilities for the bottles, so that they can be branded with club logos and sponsors.
Boot Lab also offers wholesale pricing for clubs, academies and associations who place large orders.
“The brand is starting to get out there,” he said.
“I feel as it is early days, but the feedback is good and we believe we’ve delivered a quite innovative product that doesn’t really have much in the way of comparable products.
“Once we start announcing some of the clubs we’re working with, I’m confident we will see a domino effect and more will come as a result.”
You can purchase the Boot Lab 101 Boot Brush via the company’s online store.
Clubs, academies, federations and interested stockists can learn more about wholesale pricing via the Boot Lab 101 website.