Wednesday, September 1, 2010
ESPNsoccernet: September 21, 9:40 AM UK
Nike Total 90 Tracer
After a summer in which the Jabulani became every bit as infamous as Luis Suarez when a succession of World Cup stars queued up to complain about its treacherous flight, it is tempting to suggest that the bar has been set relatively low for any new ball on the scene. While that may be true, there is little doubt that the Nike Total 90 Tracer is a vast improvement on its controversial Adidas counterpart.
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The Total 90 Tracer has real gravitas, for a start, having been chosen as the official ball for the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A for the coming season. That is quite the endorsement, so where better to test it out than Camden Town's very own Thursday night five-a-side Premier League?
A quick warm-up with the Total 90 Tracer inspired a 3-1 victory for my very own Club DW - no mean feat for a side that has lost their three other games by an aggregate scoreline of 20-1. It was a satsifying experience for all, even the league's answer to Iker Casillas, who had to deal with a flurry of fierce efforts in practice.
Quite aside from its mystical qualities to bring the best out of a clutch of Camden cloggers, the Total 90 Tracer is a winner in the appearance stakes. Call me a traditionalist, but a football should have discernable panels, and old-school ones at that. The Total 90 Tracer has this desirable feature, taking it firmly out of the dreaded beach ball territory.
As for more technical details, Nike are keen to trumpet that the ball is the most accurate in the world, that it travels further than any other (thanks to a "micro-textured casing"), is easier to control and has a "360-degree sweet spot" thanks to the "Geo II configuration" (not to mention a "six-wing carbon latex air chamber" for "explosive acceleration" and a "high-contrast asymmetrical graphic").
All these details are fine for a student of ball design and the boffins at Nike's laboratory, but what the average football fan needs to know is whether the ball feels like a football, and in this area the Total 90 Tracer is a total success; the ping when the ball flies off a boot or the gratifying smack as it rolls into the back of the net dictates that.
This is every inch a football, which given events over the summer is not as facile a claim as it first seems.