The History of the Football

Often enthusiasts are so engrossed in the game they are watching that it is all that consumes their minds. It is all they can think about in the hours prior to the game, during the 45 minutes of play (90 minutes of international play) and it still lingers for days to come. The goal scoring, footwork, the unseen, unfair tackle and lousy goalkeeping are the main topics of conversation in the lives of football fans.

What about the deeper level of the game? Have they ever stopped to think about where it came from, how the game was developed or even why the football is designed the way it is?

Ball History

It’s not clear when exactly soccer was created, but there is evidence of football-like games that go back 3000 years. The earliest footballs were made from stomachs or bladders of animals, they weren’t very durable and couldn’t be played hard. Another design found leather being stuffed with cork shavings. Egyptians filled cloth balls with seeds, the Chinese rolled wads of animal skin until it was round, and the Greeks had similar footballs to the Egyptians, only they filled their cloth balls with hair. It has been said that in some parts of the world, severed heads were utilised for gameplay.

Today’s 32 panel ball was designed in the 60ies, and Adidas can be thanked for the iconic black and white design used so often today to portray a football. Their Adidas Telstar was the first ball designed and produced like this.

In the nineteenth century, the ball was improved with the rubber, and Charles Goodyear’s discovery of vulcanisation, which is just a big fancy word for a chemical process that gives rubber different properties, like durability and elasticity to name two. At this stage the balls only had eighteen panels, six sides each comprised of three strips. After this improvement, these balls had a lot more bounce, which was great for the development of the game. However, they were rather heavy and led to back and neck injuries when players headed the balls.

Before 1863 when the size and dimensions of football became governed, they were made of two layers of leather, with one layer being used for inflating the ball and one outer layer to help keep its round shape.

Today’s Footballs

Today there are many different types of footballs made of different materials. Some with only 24 panels while others sport 42. A lot of science and math goes into the design of the balls as they are more complex than their predecessors and are designed by engineers. Most bladders are now latex, and the diameter of the size five ball is roughly 22cm with them weighing around 410 to 450 grams.

In short, the football has come a long way, with many beneficial discoveries, inventions, enforcements and implementations. Think about that the next time you see a football kicked, headed or bouncing off the goal post. There’s so much more than meets the eye.