In recent times, man has felt the need to innovate in an attempt to diversify and differentiate themselves from the throng of identical products in the market. From the overly-popular iPad, to the unsung benefits of the waffle iron, inventors have insisted on inventing inventions to scratch an itch we weren’t even aware itched.
And as for football? We were recently introduced to national team jerseys made out of 13 plastic bottles (NOW AN ESSENTIAL ITEM), the cleat-cleaning Tyger Paw, and skin-tight base layers (despite how silly most of us look in them).
Well, we can now add one more to that list. Last weekend saw the release of a new football accessory that promises to revolutionise the way we play the beautiful game. Take it to the next level. Change the game. Referees won’t let you enter the field without it, professionals will waive their sponsorship fees to endorse it, and amateur players will have it at the top of their Christmas wish-list. Introducing… Rhino Headgear.
Essentially, Rhino Headgear produce football boots, but for your head instead. Inspired by the flagship boot range of a Brand-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (for legal reasons) (henceforth referred to as “BTMNBN”), their products are modelled on the traditional rugby scrum cap, but with the added benefits of various additions that serve to generate the best possible contact with a ball, as well as enhance the power behind each header.
“Cor! Blimey! How did this radical idea come about?” I hear you exclaim. It began early last year, when industrial designers Joseph Rogin and Sebastian Lentil were watching Chelsea play Liverpool in the Premier League. Having just returned from a game of footy themselves, Rogin cleaned his boots (of the BTMNBN’s flagship boot range) while catching glimpses of the game. As his hand brushed the cleat’s rubber ridges, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech suddenly made a stunning save. Cech, whose skull was damaged in a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt back in 2006, has to wear a protective cap whenever he takes to the field.
Instantly, Rogin’s creativity sparked to life, “Hang on, what if I put rubber strips on a cap? That might help with headers.” And ten months later, after many nights without sleep and many days without FIFA11, Rhino Headgear was born.
“Why name it so?”, you may ask. Lentil explains, “We wanted to name it after an animal, a beast, which uses its head as a weapon, as a player does when he sports our product. With its intimidating horn, the rhino was the obvious choice.” It was pointed out to Lentil that a rhino’s horn was, in fact, located on its face, not on its head, and thus a unicorn might be a more accurate representation of their product’s features instead. “Well, yes.”, he squirmed, “but it is also a mythical animal. And besides, I doubt you’ll find many 20-30 year-old men willing to put on a cap called ‘The Unicorn’.”
There are actually three different models of Rhino scrumcaps: the Spin, the Shot, and the Touch. Targeted at the nippy attacker who loves getting in at the far post to loop a header over the ‘keeper, the Spin’s design is simple – several rubber ridges of varying shape and size were sewn into a basic scrum cap. The unique placement and design of these ridges are meant to amplify the contact your head has with the ball, and the increased friction allows you to produce optimum spin while heading. Needless to say, if you intend to become the David Beckham of ball-headers, you’ll also need to put in a hard shift on the training pitch.
The Shot was crafted for a single purpose – power. High-tech 3D TPU plates are strategically attached to the cap, creating an optimum surface for powerful heading of the ball. Be it a defender or a striker, the Shot will help you generate superior force with your headers, whether you’re defending your goal, or attacking your opponent’s. The 58-meter headed strike might just become a weekly occurrence.
As its moniker suggests, the third model’s purpose is control. Shape-correcting memory foam pads and soft kangaroo leather combine to make the Touch a cap for those with a touch of flair. This cap helps you to cushion headers for your teammates, turning yourself into an assist machine! Alternatively, it is supple enough for those with good composure to balance the ball on their head as they make their way around the pitch, as Brazilian starlet Kerlon once demonstrated.
On the technical side of things, these caps partly consist of a combination of tough DUREX synthetic fabric, as well as breathable mesh so players will be kept cool at all times. Weighing in at just 240 g, you wouldn’t even know it was there, if it wasn’t for the straps, which are fully adjustable to fit every sort of head type. Except maybe Gervinho’s.
In a totally original move, Rhino have announced plans for future models to feature wild, flashy colourways, as well as a chip that transmits information about your athletic performance straight to your Nokia handset.
Rhino have already tested their products on the pitch. At the highest level, no less. Manchester United defender Chris Smalling came on as a substitute against Wolves sporting a well-camouflaged version of The Shot and gave an assured display, making several headed clearances “that were noticeably more powerful and flew further than they did in previous games”, claims Lentil. Empirical evidence of said claims is still outstanding at press time.
Rumours suggest that Rhino are looking to supply a Premier League club with their products. When pressed, Lentil revealed, “Yes, we are in advanced talks regarding a technical deal with a club that recently finished in mid-table. We can’t reveal which as yet, but they fully embody the spirit of Rhino Headgear, and will make good use of our equipment. It’s not like we were going to approach Arsenal, right?”
A mid-table team? Making full use of headgear that enhances their ball-heading ability? As if playing Stoke City on a cold, windy Wednesday night at the Britannia wasn’t terrifying enough already.
This is Darren Goon’s first attempt at fiction, so feedback will not be tolerated (Just kidding). However, any wealthy backers/investors with plans on breaking into the football-gear business are free to contact him here. Let’s make some moooolaaaah.
All characters and products/brands appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, brands, or products is purely coincidental. Except Chris Smalling, who is a real person.