It was one fine Friday morning in December when I, Jabulani, was unveiled in Cape Town as the official ball for the FIFA World Cup to be held in South Africa. Although I look forward to it, I am told I am useful only when kicked around – a price one has to pay to get the best seat in the house. I am designed and manufactured by Adidas, and will be the only ball used during the blockbuster event.
My name is a term used in isiZulu, which means ‘to celebrate’. I have been designed in sync with the jubilant African spirit; an impressive look indeed, though unfortunately I am yet to meet my female counterparts. I have four triangles painted on my whole body, which has eleven different colours – representing 11 official languages and 11 different communities in South Africa, which makes it one of the most diverse countries in the African continent.
Like most things on earth, I was manufactured in China using the latex bladder from India. The thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is from Taiwan and the ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) along with the cotton fabric, glue and ink coming from China itself. Too complex? I agree. I just read it in the manual lying next to me.
Now, coming to my revolutionary architecture. Unlike John Terry, I have been specially made so that I do not misbehave with professionals and not be a source of undeserved trouble for goal-keepers. I am constructed using a completely new design, consisting of eight (reduced from 14 from the last World Cup) thermally-bonded, 3-D, spherically formed EVA and TPU panels. All this together make me an energetic unit with a perfectly round shape. This level of technicality was bound to come in as I was developed by a few good men – geeks from Loughborough University, United Kingdom.
The Europeans had introduced the ‘Goose Bump’ surface in EURO ’08 which was very troublesome for my sister ‘Europass’. She found it very difficult to have a grip on the surface and the professionals used her as an excuse for their poor performances.
But my designers have learnt from that, and made me smart enough to deal with such adversities. I have a futuristic texture along with a revolutionary ‘Grip’n’Groove’ technology which covers me with small aero grooves. This provides me with the most stable flight characteristics and also helps me hold on to the surface in all weather conditions. The players love me as I perform according to their wishes. During the testing phase, I was approved by Michael Ballack; though I am not sure why as he couldn’t hit the target once.
I was used in Club World Cup ’09, and my sibling Jabulani Angola was used in the African Nations Cup ’10. The MLS and Clausura tournament of Argentina also utilised my services. Players such as Lampard and Kaka have personally told me they are looking forward to kicking me in the World Cup, which is a compliment only in my world. Petr Cech was happy with my predictability and reliability, though his gloves had too much sticky liquid for my comfort.
Dreams of millions and livelihood of hundreds rest upon where I end up during the matches in South Africa. As far as my dream is concerned, I wish to be involved in a World Cup final between England and Argentina; catch a ride on Messi’s boots, visit the insides of a goal quite often and finally end up in Wayne Rooney’s closet for the rest of my life.