Your soccer-loving family and friends will always love what you give them at Christmas. But let's be honest - you have all year to buy expensive boots from the big 3 brands, or replica gear from the mega clubs. This year, be a little more thoughtful with these carefully-chosen soccer gift ideas. There’s still time.
One World Ball from One World Play Project - this durable ball launched in 2010 and is a symbol of so much more, providing kids around the world with access to play and the most basic element of the game, in a form that will last a lot longer and hold up on streets and rough pitches. The Berkeley, California company has delivered 2 million balls in 185 nations.
PARK’s carbon-negative soccer ball. The Australian company may need just a few extra days to express ship to North American customers, but it’s a well-designed, colorful brand of apparel and gear that makes an impact on equality, environment and just getting kids to play.
Leave a Little More: a beautiful and inspiring
story by Samantha Cronin (illustrated by Tracy Hesmer.) Read about it at Howler. Buy directly to support the US Soccer Foundation, whose programs improve access (mini pitches!) and inclusion to soccer.
Shop NWSL Buy gear from Racing Louisville to San Diego Waves (two personal favorites), sport this attendance record-smashing leagues’ colorful kits and logos, and support the best professional women’s league we’ve seen start from scratch.
Open Goal Project gear: The Washington DC organization set out in 2015 to eliminate barriers for playing youth soccer in low income families, improving diversity along the way - and has already helped student athletes graduate through the ranks to play collegiately. Last month they launched their youngest age group program yet, for 2010-14 girls. Follow their Instagram for their occasional preorders of jerseys and hoodies - which say LOV right on them!
Modest Vintage Player’s leather soccer ball. For the special someone who appreciates the finer things! The Retro Heritage ball is on sale now - and they have basketballs and boxing gloves, too.
Added Time Outfitters wristbands - The Cincinnati brand sells really cool wristbands that celebrate big moments on the pitch that US and international fans will recall fondly (or not), from Mile High Malice (US defeating Mexico in last summer’s Nations League final in Denver) to The Old Lady, an homage to Juventus of Turin, Italy, clashing with Liverpool in 1984. These are some of the most thoughtfully designed things you’ll ever find for a fan.
Re’s All the Rage and other collections- created by iconic World Cup champs Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press and Tobin Heath, this emerging brand has already donated $150k to LGBQT organizations among other gender equality and other impact organizations.
Goal Click soccer prints: Goal Click takes the universal language of football one step further to a visual format, partnering with photography storytellers from around the world to capture the beautiful game. From the iconic Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan in an ice tub to street soccer in Jordan, these photos are beautiful. 10% of their print sales support Common Goal, an organization that drives the football industry to offer 1% of revenue to global goals on racism, inclusion, hygiene and health, enterprise and more.
Love Futbol’s sweet jersey. Love Futbol is another change-making organization that harnesses the connecting power of soccer to improve the futures of impoverished kids. The organization was started in 2005, inspired by a small-sided game in Morocco, has created safe places to play in 15 countries, and they’re hiring. The jersey is a beauty - get it and directly support their mission. Thread the Future!
Gear that supports your local team: Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhennney cultivated a lot of global fans for their local Scottish side Wrexham- prompting a social media call to action to support your OWN local team. The soccer ladder isn’t as connected in the US but you can still find a squad nearby, and buy their gear online or better yet, after buying tickets to a match. I really love Detroit City FC of USL - here’s Le Rouge’s web shop. And here’s a link to the USL Championship and League One directory of stores- these clubs have awesome brands, from New Mexico United to the widely applauded Oakland Roots.
OpenGoaaal goal and backstop - Of all the soccer training gear I’ve seen introduced in the last decade - and there are a lot of cool ones, from the DribbleUp ball to Yael Auerbach’s awesome Techne Futbol training app (which friends and their highly motivated kids are absolutely dedicated to), there’s something beautifully simple about the OpenGoaaal. It is useful in tiny yards like ours, or tiny school playgrounds - anything you can do to create a space for kids to just rip tons of shots, the most fun part of playing for most kids. I enjoy their blog as well.
How Soccer Explains the World: Published 2010, this book awakened my understanding of the game. Buy it from a local seller or online. Each chapter, expertly written in a one-time soccer sideline project by renowned politics / society / culture author and New Republic editor Franklin Foer - tells a story of how religion, culture, history, politics and division get in the way of the sport…or how the sport somehow enables it. At least all that is history, right? This book is powerful. Steve Bloomfield’s Africa United is a close runner up.
US Soccer swag from Homage - The Columbus, Ohio apparel brand has always captured our imaginations across sports with designs and extremely comfy tees and more, that conjure up your favorite players and teams, ever. The Chastain shirt may be sold out but there are tons of US Soccer goodies to get you geared up for next year’s World Cup.
Goal Five performance apparel designed for women: Ann Kletz leads this fast-growing Oakland-based brand, whose name invokes the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on equality for all women and girls.
Anti Flopping Soccer tee - and other sweet shirts, hoodies, and joggers from Soccer Girl Probs - a Long Island, NY brand founded by a trio of former Fairfield U. teammates Alanna Locast, Shannon Fay, and Carly Beya.
Ultras - The Lomita, California shop boasts a lot of really cool throwbacks, including two infamous USMNT replicas, Denim and Waldo, among other really unique items in their soccer collection. I’m not sure what it means, but I’ll take this Greenland Polar Bears tee.
Diadora shoes - Of all the brands I grew up with in the 80s and 90s, this one still most captures my attention. The stuff is cool, there’s always sales, and I rarely see people wearing the stuff I have here in the US - despite the venerable Italian brand’s reach across sports from tennis to street style.
Umbro’s Nations Collection - not unlike our 32 Nations Project, the big brand reimagined national team jerseys from USA to France and created some buzz when they announced the fans and players-inspired collection. Umbro is always zigging and zagging, from showing up in Target one year to reimagining World Cup kits the next, collaborating with an array of brands and yet still outfitting teams from Luton Town FC to the Jamaican Reggae Boyz. The Nations Collection doesn’t appear to be currently available on their US or UK website but here is the US jersey on Soccer Post.
International Gear: Okay, you may have to work a little more to figure out shipping in time for the holidays, but there are some really awesome global brands we’ve seen over the years such as: Italian boots from brands Cinquestelle, Pantofola d’Oro or Ryal; keeper gloves from Rinat, Ho or Uhlsport from Mexico, Spain and German: , gear or Liga MX replica apparel from Mexican brands Charly and Pirma, or casual shoes from fast-growing Brazilian brand Cariuma, or Kicks from South Africa. Go further down a rabbit hole of other legendary brands you grew up with; many are blending street style and their local culture with gear and wearable stuff for today’s player. Check out Lotto, Le Coq Sportif (France), Kelme (Spain), Kappa (Italy) and Hummel (Denmark).
If you’re out of ideas, give a gift that makes an impact: Make a donation to Soccer Without Borders. This organization has serious worldwide reach- 44 locations in 5 countries. Flat out, they make a difference in young peoples’ lives, education and future, with soccer as the platform. It’s their annual Play It Forward campaign- just donate. Two other organizations that make an impact with mini-pitches and street-style events and teams:
US Soccer Foundation and Street Soccer USA
Or just give the best gift known to human kind, for any recipient. A ball. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!