Vegan Aussie Rules Football: Summary of Test Results
In late 2012 approximately 12 prototype vegan Australian Rules Footballs were manufactured in Indian sporting goods factory from materials supplied and specified by Vegan Wares. The Indian factory has many years experience in the production of all kinds of sports balls, including Australian Rules footballs, and is regarded as a leader in its field.
To evaluate the general reaction to the concept of a match grade vegan football, and the quality of the prototypes, comments were sought from experts and balls were given to two Australian Rules football clubs.
Peter Kennedy, President, Hawthorn Amateur Football Club, 5/5/2013
Peter conducted a scientific evaluation by removing all markings from two vegan balls and two new leather footballs, giving each ball a numerical identifier, then introducing the four balls to practice sessions. After each session all four balls were tested for air loss, scuffs, loss of shape and retention of moisture.
Feedback from players was gathered.
- The vegan balls appeared to be easier to grip
- The vegan balls appeared to retain pressure for longer
- "My limited testing of the balls showed that they are an ideal substitute for the all leather balls, and would be an ideal practice ball, as we are bound by the VAFA to use a named brand in all inter club games."
Unnamed Richmond Football Club players who were shown two prototype balls by Todd Sigalas, Community Co-ordinator, Richmond Football Club, April 2013.
A good synthetic ball, but .....
- The samples felt different (to leather balls) in the hand (didn't say how)- the sound off the boot is 'twing' rather than 'thud'
- One player felt the balls were possibly a little heavy
Player at Woodend Football Club, 2013
- Sample held up well
- Seemed a little light weight
- Felt good
- Performed well in wet conditions
South Yarra Football Club, Camberwell Road, Hawthorn, 2013
Two sample balls were introduced to training sessions. The balls carried a nondescript brand name and players were aware that they were vegan. Reactions to the balls were observed.
- Club officials were very polite and encouraging
- Vocal players didn't seem to like the balls and chose not to use them ("don't give me that *#&%@, give me a proper ball" was a phrase heard a number of times).
While the footy community is likely to be skeptical, believing that leather denotes quality, objective testing to date suggests there is very little discernible difference in performance between branded match grade leather footballs and the Vegan Wares non-leather alternative.