It has always been tough being an athlete of a niche sport. As a futsal player, heading in to Rebel Sport growing up, I'd comb through the aisles and find casual wear representing Football, Tennis, AFL but nothing so much that I could affiliate with. There's arguably little doubt that AKU's success has been driven by our commitment to niche sports, working closely within the communities that occupy it. Starting in our roots of futsal, progressing into dodgeball and recently signing our long term partnership with Handball Australia. When I tell people at work I play futsal, the common first response is "What's futsal" which after a lengthy explanation they then respond with "Ohhhh, indoor soccer". You can kind of say we give a bit of love and a voice to those constantly having to explain themselves. Our latest collection of tees is a way for our AKU-mmunity to be represented off the court, through our Futsal, Dodgeball and Football shirts.
Our campaign uses 3 people close to me and AKU. As a principle, I've always wanted to use authentic people within the AKU-mmunity to be the face of our brand. Niko, our first dodgeball AKU Athlete was an obvious choice to represent the dodgeball range. On top of just being a bloody nice guy, I tell everyone that he's probably one of the top 10 dodgeball players in the world - I don't know if thats true at all but if I say it enough I might be right.
Dan is one of my oldest friends representing football. Dan is a little infuriating to play football with because one of his favourite players is Adel Taraabt so you know he cares about tekkers more than the actual outcome of the game but we've had some great times on the field together. Also, he's tall, good looking and always available as long as its within cycling distance, so he was a shoe in.
Mary is a superstar, and she represents futsal. Her instagram stories are usually her working out and training and of all the times we've played mixed together, I usually just pass her the ball and let her do the rest. She was a part of the first AKU team that won the Mixed 7-a-side at the corporate games so her history with AKU started when ours did.
In the midst of all of this, we also partnered with some key people at the AFC, working closely with them to bring an affordable international standard futsal ball to Australia. By international standard, it means the quality of the ball can be used at an international level with the AFC, so yeah, kind of a big deal for me. We named it the AKU BOLA because in Malay, BOLA means ball. Creativity has never been my strength. Also, our futsal club, Melbourne AKU FC needed new balls and I couldn't bring myself to pay $110 for the international standard ones out in the market at the moment so you can kind of say it was a bit of a self serving decision from me.
I also needed some new training socks so we went for a bold decision to create a pair of socks which could be played in, but looked good enough to be worn casually.
Aside from teamwear, I've always wanted our team to create a casual range that really embodies our community and allows people to feel recognised and represented. Looking at this collection, I think we pulled it off.