One small step for two girls, one giant kick for mankind

The first-ever football kit for the Moon revealed…in time for the 2035/36 season

England Lioness and Women’s Euros 2022 winner Beth England joins two inspirational schoolgirls for a football kit reveal in anticipation of the first-ever football match on the Moon, as children across the UK competed to design the first official Moon United kit.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) with the help of Beth England has unveiled the world’s first football home and away kits for the lunar footballers of the future following a campaign in which engineers predicted humans could be playing a competitive game of football on the moon as early as 2035*. The big reveal follows a nationwide competition by the IET for school children aged 4 to 13 to design the first-ever ‘Moon United’ home and away kit – with the aim of challenging outdated perceptions of engineering and showing children how they could combine a passion for football and space with a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) related career.

With bold and eye-catching futuristic designs that would rival any Premier League club’s shirt, the kits were designed by two talented winners Erim Ali, 13, and Ishaani Nair, 7.

Being chosen from over 500 entries, Erim and Ishaani have now had their design dreams made a reality and their winning designs brought to life and presented to them by England and Women’s Super League Tottenham Hotspur star, Beth England and British engineer and Aerodynamicist Sophie Harker.

Winner of the 8–13-year-old category, sports enthusiast, aspiring engineer, and keen Tottenham Hotspur fan, Middlesex-born Erim counts astronaut Mae Jemison, and education activist Malala Yousafzai as two of her idols.

Hoping to one day be an engineer, Erim’s belief that football should be for any gender, race or ethnicity led her to create a unisex kit with geometric, molecule-inspired shapes in a muted dragonfly colour palette. The judges were inspired by Erim’s ‘environmental considerations and the incorporation of an inventive, future-thinking sweat absorption and correction patch that would turn sweat into usable water.’

Speaking of her win Erim said: “As a Spurs fan it’s an honour to receive my winning shirt design from Beth England. The competition really inspired me to think big, be creative and show how science can change how we work, live and play in the future. Maybe one day I will get to wear the shirt for a kickabout on the Moon as 2035 is not that far away.”

Based in Coventry and winner of the 4–7-year-old category, Ishaani created a bold space-themed shirt, with striking colours and playful solar system illustrations. According to Ishaani the Earth and Sun featured are meant to give positivity to the game, and the shooting stars represent the speed and spirit of football. The judges ‘loved the colourful design and the smart idea to turn the planet Saturn into a football with rings as the central focus point.’

Competition winner Ishaani Nair said: “I am so happy to be a winner and can’t wait to wear my kit. One day I hope I’ll get to play football on the Moon with my sister. I’d love that.”

Beth England, who presented the girls with their winning kits said: “It’s an old football phrase, but the girls did an amazing job and I’m over the moon to be part of this campaign to involve youngsters in STEM. While science and engineering play a big part in the future, it’s critical to my life as a footballer today. That’s everything from the design of football boots, training and nutrition, performance analysis data, through to the construction of the stadiums we play in. Without STEM, we wouldn’t have the beautiful game as we know it today.”

The competition was judged by a panel of IET expert judges, which included Eneni Bambara-Abban, Beth Clarke, Ama Frimpong, Sophie Harker, and Brian David Johnson.

Aerospace engineer, analogue astronaut, and IET Lunar Football Panel judge, Sophie Harker, said: “Engineering affects everyone’s everyday lives, and showing how it plays a part in making our favourite hobbies or interests possible, is crucial in changing perception and inspiring consideration of STEM-based studies and careers. There’s so much potential for engineering to help make things we only dream of, like playing football on the Moon, a reality, and with imaginative, inventive children like Erim and Ishaani I’m hopeful that the next generation will be the ones to make it happen.”

First launched in July, the Moon United campaign saw the IET assemble a panel of engineering and technology experts to predict the possibilities of Lunar Football, and, with just one-sixth of the gravity of Earth and no wind or air resistance, just how the game would need to be adapted for the harsh conditions of the Moon. These changes, including the ball travelling roughly six times further than that on Earth, the need for a football nearly twice the size, a bigger goal and the game becoming a strictly no-contact sport released in the first-ever Lunar Football Rule Book.

The campaign and competition were designed by IET to inspire the next generation of engineers and encourage more children to be excited and inspired by a potential future in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

To find out more about the campaign, the Lunar Football Rule Book or information about STEM visit: https://eabw.theiet.org/.

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