With the imminent World Cup stoking the dreams of young football players hoping to become the next Theo Walcott, a new training aid that uses radar could help them become a reality.
Many aspiring football professionals are hampered by poor or inappropriate equipment, such as traffic cones, to represent opposing players. Now a Birmingham company has worked with the University of Warwick to devise a child focused "Soccer Buddy" training aid
The specially designed 1.37 metre tall "Soccer Buddies" are the brainchild of semi professional footballer and children’s football coach Julez Broomes. He despaired at how dull and inappropriate many football training aids were for young players. Drills used plastic road cones or adult sized mannequins that only bore a rough resemblance to a player. Julez said, "Young people aged six to 14 are in their golden years when one can do great things to develop their footballing talent. I thought there must be a way of making their training more fun".
He developed the idea of a colourful free standing figure, designed to be roughly the same height as the youngsters, that would be easy to use and affordable for clubs and schools and even private home use. However, he was dismayed when he could not find an affordable way of manufacturing the figure.
He turned to the University of Warwick's Innovation Direct team who have a track record of helping small companies develop innovative new products. They found him a cost effective manufacturing process and helped him re-engineer the "Soccer Buddy" to make it even more child friendly and easy to transport and use.
Julez has also produced a radar powered version of the Soccer Buddy that can track and display the speed of a young person's strike at goal with a speed camera-like radar unit in the dummy’s chest. The University of Warwick team is now also helping him design other football training tools using the Soccer Buddy concept.
Julez already has orders for 35 Soccer Buddies. The new training aid has been tested and endorsed by Derby County Football Club's Football in the Community Team and has won support from Everton's James Vaughan, the Premiership's youngest ever goal scorer, who scored at 16 years and 271 days old.