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Taka Grips: The high-performance grip socks making a difference

Taka Grips is a high-performance grip socks company based in Sydney, with the overall aim of improving player performance and comfort on the field.

Liam McConaghy, the founder of the business, explained to Soccerscene that his own personal experiences of discomfort on the pitch inspired him to find a viable solution to issues affecting his game.

“It was actually November last year, so not that long ago, we started back at preseason – I play in NPL NSW and I was signed for St George at the time,” he said.

“What happened was we were training on an artificial turf on a Sunday and it was really hot (it was coming into summer) and my feet were just getting torn to shreds.

“There were just the worst blisters and I could feel the friction inside my boot – so I thought to myself I need to find a fix and investigated what all this grip sock business was about.”

He personally never had owned a pair of grip socks, but was left dismayed by the prices he saw online for the item, which prompted him to try and start his own business.

“I got online to buy some and they were $70 a pair,” McConaghy said.

“So, I guess I just had a thought to myself (about creating the business), it just sort of started off as one of those ideas.”

A PE and Design and Technology teacher by trade, McConaghy used his expertise in these areas to devise his product at a much more affordable price of $30.

“I have got a bit of experience and training with graphic design and that sort of thing, so I had a bit of a play around and contacted some suppliers and manufacturers and eventually, one thing led to another.”

The sock itself is made with durable and lightweight material, however its custom grip placement and advanced technology is specifically beneficial for players looking to improve their change of direction, speed, agility and enhance their comfort.

“The socks have got these little grip pads that are basically pressed into the socks through a high-heat glue gun,” McConaghy said.

“I’ve strategically placed them all over the bottom of the sock in places where you would have the most pressure inside your boot. So for example, around the ball of the foot and the back of the heel – I made sure mine came up the back of the foot, so you wouldn’t get that slippage in the back of your boot where a lot of the blisters happen.

“Essentially what happens is you don’t slide around in your boot, so without any friction in your boot you don’t get blisters and it’s better for your movement.”

Taka Grip Socks – White

Although only recently launching the business, the socks have gathered an immediate following and appreciation from professional football players in the A-League and around the world, in leagues such as the J-League.

“I’ve pretty much been playing NPL1 since I was 14 years old, I used to play with the likes of Massimo Luongo and Aaron Mooy,” McConaghy said.

“So, I’ve got old contacts through playing and reached out to a few people and asked if they’d like to wear them, which they were more than happy to and from there more doors have opened.”

Other professional players from different codes including NRL and AFL have also been using the product, with the socks now entering more sports department stores around Australia.

Social media, particularly the company’s Instagram page, has increased the profile of the grip socks to a wider audience, but possible future partnerships with football clubs and state federations across Australia is a logical next step, according to McConaghy.

“While I have thought about expanding into different clothing down the line, firstly it would be good to be able to get some clubs onboard with Taka Grips through a sponsorship, supplying the whole club from juniors through to first grade,” he said.

In the present however, McConaghy is proud of the work he has done so far and how quickly the product has already grown.

“I am very proud, because it sort of just started out of nowhere,” he said.

“I literally just thought let’s give it a crack, apart from some help from my girlfriend I’ve pretty much done it all myself.

“It makes me proud, especially when I look at the calibre of people who are wearing them.”

For more information on Taka Grips visit their website here: https://www.takagrips.com.au/

 

 

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Liga MX to extend global reach through OneFootball partnership

Liga MX

OneFootball have announced a new deal with Liga MX which will see the world’s largest football media company stream live games and highlights from the Mexican top-flight, after inking an agreement with the league’s international sales partner – Spanish-based agency Mediapro Group.

With a platform used by 85 million monthly active users across the world, OneFootball will provide free-to-air coverage of between two and five live matches from teams such as Club América, Cruz Azul, Pumas, Toluca, FC Juárez, Necaxa and Tigres to the world.

Under the terms of the agreement, the football media platform will provide coverage of the summer Apertura 2021 tournament and the winter Clausura 2022 competition, featuring the league’s 18 teams.

The deal covers several regions where OneFootball currently operates, including France, Italy, Germany and the UK, along with Latin America, Africa and Asia.

OneFootball’s latest broadcasting agreement builds on a number of deals the firm has in place to air the German top-flight Bundesliga in Brazil and Latin America, the Japanese J League in Italy, and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) in various international markets.

The new agreement with OneFootball, which adds to Mediapro Group’s extensive experience in the sale and distribution of audiovisual rights of global sports competitions, will extend the international broadcast reach of Liga MX to a vast userbase of young and highly engaged football enthusiasts around the globe.

The Mediapro Group is the global media rights sales agency of the Spanish LaLiga, the Chinese Super League and the Belgian Jupiler Pro League.

Earlier in March, OneFootball also struck a deal for the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to become the first national federation to link up with the platform. The company has also acquired the rights to the Ligue 1 in Brazil, with the French top-tier also becoming the first professional football league to confirm an editorial collaboration with OneFootball.

SmartCart SVX the mobile touchscreen making analysis easier 

Built with versatility in mind, SmartCart SVX is the world’s first extreme brightness touchscreen system suitable for outdoor sports presentation.

Built with versatility in mind, SmartCart SVX is the world’s first extreme brightness touchscreen system suitable for outdoor sports presentation. 

Whether it be for television broadcast or coaching, this mobile solution is the best of both worlds. SmartCart SVX allows organisations to ‘get inside the game’. 

The touchscreen system, which is capable of being transported via four wheels, has been designed for live production and used in conjuction with TV sports broadcasters around the world.  

The uniqueness of this system means that rather being restricted to an indoor studio, broadcasters are now able to present in different ways via an outdoor setting. A built-in power supply and server means there’s very little hassle when setting up at location. 

SmartCart SVX has gone through rigorous testing to ensure it can stand up to extreme conditions that it may encounter, while also having the robust design that allows it to run smoothly – including adequate lighting even in bright sunshine. 

The brightness is as high as the latest stadium screens in full daylight, so there’s no trouble in making out what is being viewed. The bold and striking screen adds something extra to sports coverage, as presentation and analysis can be done live at the ground and even on the pitch, eliminating the need to cross to a studio or use a green screen background to get that match day feel. 

Most notably, SmartCart SUX was utilised throughout Euro 2016 in France, with the touchscreen technology helping to preview who would reach the final, while a comprehensive analysis of Germany’s Mats Hummels’ performance showed how he quelled the influence of Poland’s attacking duo of Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiusz Milik. Vision can be stopped so that the touchscreen can circle, highlight or even change what’s shown on screen. 

Presenters can also do interviews with players or coaches with SmartCart SVX backing them, opening the door for immediate post-match thoughts with a particular match highlight or moment analysed on the spot. This would do wonders for broadcast, giving viewers a greater insight into what goes on during a match. 

SmartCart SVX technology is tailor made not just for broadcast, but for club coaches seeking a reliable resource to communicate directly with their players. As is the case in broadcast, a coach can use the touchscreen to his or her advantage to bring up pieces of play that worked well or need improving – for instance a starting formation, attacking forays or defensive shape. The touchscreen feature allows coaches to move players around or change things on a still image to work out exactly what they are after from their team.

With the anytime, anywhere ability of SmartCart SVX, coaches can show recorded footage of gameplay that they are ideally looking for and then allow the players to immediately replicate it, with the quick turnaround between watching and putting it to action a very helpful tool during practice.

SmartCart SVX is a cost-effective alternative that requires very little equipment, but delivers coverage that gets everyone closer to the action and at the same time brings compelling content with an easy-to-use interface. It has already been trusted by major competitions UEFA Champions League, English Premier League and the aforementioned UEFA Euro 2016, while other sporting codes include the PGA Tour & European Tour (golf), European Rugby Champions Cup, Investec Ashes Series 2013 (cricket), National Football League (NFL) and the Wimbledon Championships (tennis). 

Operating throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and United States, sports broadcasters and clubs are fully supported in any analysis or coaching ventures they want to achieve.

To see more of SmartCart in action, including short videos of sports presenters using the touchscreen, you can find it here.

Benchwarmers: Providing a sportswear solution to improve player performance and safety

Australian company Benchwarmers have developed an innovative solution, through their functional sporting attire, to keep players warm when they are not on the field.

Their product, a body-length garment, is specifically designed to keep the most vulnerable parts of the body warm such as the upper legs, whilst keeping the arms free to allow players to regulate their own body temperature.

The item is ultra-lightweight and includes other features such as insulated inside pockets, a hood, a resistance to water and wind, as well as fully fleeced lining for extra warmth.

Creator of the product, Andrew Lauder, recently developed the Benchwarmer after his previous experiences as a coach on the sidelines.

“I identified that there was a problem years ago, he told Soccerscene.

“I was coaching young kids and was having to take down blankets and stuff to keep them warm on the benches.

“Some kids in football once they get a head knock or something, they go into a little bit of a shock and there was nothing to keep them warm on the bench apart from club hoodies or something along those lines, which was ridiculous.”

“Over the 2020 period I sort of started designing Benchwarmers, working out the features of how best to do it and have continued to go on from there.”

Lauder explained it was extremely necessary for grassroots players to keep their muscles warm on the bench before they came on, to avoid hamstring strains and other common soft tissue injuries.

“The main point is, especially with juniors and amateurs, they are sitting on the bench waiting for their time to come on and they don’t warm up like the professionals do,” he said.

“Professionals may say ‘let’s jump on the bike and get your legs moving’, but the kids and the amateurs they run on without properly warming up their body.”

The design of the Benchwarmers product.

Lauder has built up the product to a local and international audience and has found some success in doing so, despite it being a relatively new product.

“I put it out there to the kids, because that’s where I started it all,” he said.

“But at the moment it’s the amateurs in England who have started grabbing it and some clubs here.

“One thing that I get sometimes with the smaller clubs is they love it but they don’t want to pay for it. With junior clubs they are obviously volunteers and they are more hesitant to make the decision to spend the money. It’s crazy because you ask them every time, what do you have in the kitbag to keep the kids warm? They usually have nothing, just club jackets, which I don’t believe is sufficient.”

Lauder continues to invest his time into avenues which will grow the presence of his item, such as social media work, further marketing of Benchwarmers and listening to customer’s feedback.

“My main thing at this point of time is that I’ve been doing a lot of direct email marketing which I’ve put out,” he said.

“I am also building the Instagram and Facebook pages to target clubs and people to sort of get them onto it and that has started to work in some cases.

“Some feedback I’ve received by one of the clubs, for example, showed me the benefits of how important it is to be a lightweight product. One club wanted ten of them and wanted his manager to be able to put them into the kit bag and carry them from job to job. They don’t take up too much space, their waterproof, their fully lined inside, they’ve been developed with 40cm pockets on the inside which are insulated – all these things help.”

The creator of Benchwarmers hopes the product will continue to have steady growth here in Australia and overseas in the long term.

“In the future I wish that the Benchwarmers brand is in a hell of a lot of clubs and people are wrapped they have them for their kids,” Lauder said.

“Basically, I want them to think to themselves, why didn’t we do this or buy this years ago?”

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