By Ben de Buen
Nike invited us to try out their latest Hypervenom boots in a Sydney studio last night. A small goal embedded into the middle of the wall, surrounded by obstacles plonked on synthetic grass, reminded me of the lounge room at my grandmother’s house where the eternally vacant fireplace was repurposed as the obvious goal for a one-man version of football..
Only a child could manipulate the World Game into a version furnished to exclude, well, the world. Dribble the ball around the antique chair, nutmeg the coffee table, pass to self off the wall, have a shot.
The unused poker, ash-brush, and miniature shovel, placed neatly in their stand, doubled as Jorge Campos for added difficulty.
Many of these fixtures—where I monopolised individual accolades—were played during hours when adults were not around to voice their concerns for expensive vases, family portraits or other breakable hooligans, useless in the mind of an eight year old.
Scoring goals in a naturally fragile environment provided a sort of palatable danger, but you had to believe in your skills. The only way to prove everybody wrong was to not break anything. They were wrong—most of the time.
Nike provided custom-made obstacles and, in the spirit of my grandmother’s lounge room, breakables in the form of studio lighting and flat screens. Adelaide United striker Bruce Djite modelled the shoes and showed us the way around the obstacles. Fox Sports host Adam Peacock narrated our mishaps.
The agility required to complete the drills was much the same as dribbling around a couch, jumping over the lap dog, avoiding the coat rack or shooting into the bricks of an unused fireplace.
While Nike were wise enough to clear the space around the little goal, playing football indoors (not the same as indoor football) was permission to break the old rules wearing Nike’s latest technology in football boots as opposed to just dirty socks.
Delicious beer snacks slalomed their way through our post-match formation. Then came the beers themselves while we continued to test the Hypervenom boots shooting at “the fireplace.”
Weathered by a recent string of defeats in socially competitive futsal leagues, it had been a while since football provided rewards akin to treating rivals like furniture.