Soccer Ball History

August 26, 2009


Soccer is maybe the most popular sport in the world. The history of soccer goes along, evidently, with the soccer ball history. When referring to the soccer ball history there are several periods to distinguish. Thus there are the early ball history, the balls in the 1800s, balls in the 1900s, and the modern times.

Early soccer ball history starts before the birth of Christ. Kicking a round object for fun was surely a pastime to many cultures. South American Indians were among the first to use a form of elastic ball that pre-dated the use of rubber, discovered a thousand years later. The early soccer balls consisted of different items from animal and human skulls to cow or pig bladders and stitched up cloth. The Chinese used to play a game that involved dribbling a ball through gaps in a net spread between two poles, and this happened as early as 255BC. Ancient Greeks and Romans also had a game which involved kicking and carrying a ball, whereas in certain ancient Egyptian rites are said to have had similarities with soccer.

Pre-medieval and medieval stories and legends that can be qualified as part of the soccer ball history, also mention the use of animal bladders or skulls to play games similar to modern soccer. An instance of the use of an animal bladder ball is presented in the legend about the ‘game’ between two villages. An entire village ran and kicked a ball with the purpose of getting it into the other village’s square. The other villagers will make similar attempts. Inflated animal bladders seem to dominate this part of the soccer ball history. Once inflated they would try to keep the ‘ball’ in the air by by means of both feet and hands. In time people improvements to the shape and strength of the ball were brought by covering it with leather.

The soccer ball history of the 1800s bears the influence of the introduction of vulcanized rubber, Charles Goodyear’s invention. In 1855 the same Charles Goodyear designed and then built the first vulcanized rubber soccer balls. In 1862 H.J. Lindon developed one of the first inflatable bladders for soccer balls. Although he is the father of the rugby ball too, he did not patent the idea at the time because of the preference for the round ball. By the 1900s the soccer ball history had entered on a different path, bringing these entertainment objects a lot closer to what they are today.

Co-authored by: Junior Golf Bags.

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