What it takes to make the world’s best handball
The players throw them about with such speed and accuracy that makes the mind boggle. Yet have you ever stopped and wondered what it takes – and makes – to piece together one of the balls that zoom from hand to hand and zip past goalkeepers at record speeds of 140 km/h?
Well think no more! Following the unveiling of the new ball designs for next season’s EHF Champions League and EHF European League, we asked official ball partners SELECT the burning questions when it comes to all things balls at the highest level of handball.
Step forward SELECT CEO Peter Knap to put answers to our questions, including more on the collaboration and how new designs are implemented.
eurohandball.com: Peter, The cooperation between the EHF/M and SELECT has proven to be successful and – last year – the partnership was prolonged for an additional four years. What was the reasoning behind the decision for prolongation?
Peter Knap: First of all, the success makes it easy to prolong our cooperation. Secondly, the EHF Champions League is the ultimate handball tournament in the world and a very strong marketing window for our brand. By using our Select ball for that tournament also prove the quality of our products. We are very happy for the prolongation and also very committed to be an active partner for EHF/M.
eurohandball.com: How did your business benefit from the cooperation with EHF/M?
Peter: We have experienced a positive growth and increased visibility through the partnership. To see the best players in the world compete with our balls is also noted by end consumers and adds more strength to our motto ‘Players’ Choice’.
eurohandball.com: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year has been an unpredictable one. How did the pandemic affect your business?
Peter: When all amateur sport is more or less shut down it has an impact on our business. Our business model is highly focused on amateur sport, so the spring was definitely a challenge. Fortunately, we have seen that the demand of our products has returned earlier than expected and we are very positive about the future.
eurohandball.com: Each season a new ball design is presented, next season there is no differentiation between male and female competitions, as the design is the same. What was the creative concept behind the new design?
Peter: In the process of making next year’s ball there were two strategies. First one being the reduction in number of teams in the CL tournament making this very exclusive and secondly the introduction of a new corporate ID from EHF adding new design elements. The ball is designed in the corporate colours of EHF dark blue and white with elements of gold to highlight the exclusivity of the tournament.
eurohandball.com: How long does the process take and how many people are included in it?
Peter: From the start, the creation of ball design has been a cooperation between some creative minds from EHF Marketing and of course the product development department at Select. After finalising the design sketch a wider group of people has been asked to give their feedback. Normally it takes two-to-three months to develop the balls, including approval of physical samples. A total of up to 10 people have contributed in this process.
eurohandball.com: How long does it take to produce one handball?
Peter: It takes around two hours to stitch a ball. But this is only the assembling process. Before that we have material checking, material underlining, material cutting, material printing, material stitching and ready balls packing.
eurohandball.com: Are you able to recycle old handballs and reuse the material?
Peter: When a handball is no longer good for playing the material is worn out and there is no possibility of re-using this material. We are working on different elements of recyclable materials in the ball construction but this is still for the future.
eurohandball.com: What are your plans for the future? Will fans be able to the visit Select web shop in the coming years?
Peter: As everything moves towards digitalisation, this is of course also a path that we are following. However, for the time being we focus more on supplying our normal trade through our B2B shop than having a direct sales channel to end consumer. However B2C is today available for the biggest handball market – Germany.
The new eye-catching balls for the EHF Champions League and EHF European League will be launched and go on sale exclusively at the EHF FINAL4 2021 in Cologne and Budapest respectively.
Fans will be able to purchase the official match balls and replica versions at both EHF FINAL4 events later this season.
For further information about SELECT, visit www.select-sport.com.