When the final whistle blew at Stadium Australia last Sunday, it marked the close of a record breaking 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Both ticket sales and viewership was through the roof, while the Matildas’s final against England came in as the most-watched TV program in Australia ever.
However, right across the world women and girls are still treated as second class citizens when it comes to sport. It is something that impact driven sportswear brand PARK wants to change.
This week I spoke to PARK founder and CEO, Sam Davy, a football tragic, who is applying his past experience as the global creative director at Apple, brand director at Crumpler, and director of tennis and participation at Tennis Australia, to leverage the power of football for good.
PARK is a football-focused sportswear brand that’s 100% driven by its impact mission and being “better”. From poverty to climate change, its goal is to use the power of football to tackle global issues.
The business was launched around a one-for-one football model, where for every football sold, another was passed on. It’s all about getting more people to play the game and the business has a big focus on women’s football and ensuring that women have the same level of access to equipment that men do.
There’s also a big focus on sustainability within the business: it developed a world-first carbon zero football and every football now sold or donated is carbon negative, while its apparel is all sustainably made.
PARK’s objectives fall under three pillars: better for all players, better for the planet, and better access to play.
Better for all players
Unlike other brands, PARK designs for female and male players equally, implementing direct feedback from professional athletes, to ensure that female players are not an afterthought. That means its women’s range is tailored to fit everyone, improving on-pitch performance and access to the game.
In the lead up to the World Cup, PARK worked with professional female footballers to design a football kit range that fits female players, including offering various fits and lengths of shorts.
This followed a survey of professional players that found 96% have had to play in a men’s kit, the vast majority of which don’t fit, leaving players feeling devalued and uncomfortable. This issue alone has created a large drop off in women’s participation rates, especially in the teenage years.
Better for the planet
PARK designs and manufactures sustainable products and has built out a sustainable supply-chain. It uses innovative materials and has stripped out toxic materials from its garments, instead using completely natural biodegradable solutions, such as a natural pollutant-free algae moisture-wicking technology.
All fabrics and trims are made from recycled materials, resulting in an up to 80% carbon reduction when compared with similar products.
PARK’s sustainable designs consider what is put into a garment and what is left out. It intentionally designs garments to be simple in style and function, creating timeless looks to extend the life cycle of a piece while reducing waste across the supply chain.
Better access to play
Backed by the view that everyone has the right to play, PARK partners with charities and organisations that want to level the playing field, using football to engage on initiatives that benefit everybody from after school programs to refugee camps and people seeking asylum, at-risk youth, abandoned children and girls around the world.
- Through its Buy One, Donate One initiative PARK has donated over 11,000 balls to players in need in 36 countries and started over 1 million games through its Pass-a-ball Project.
- Every PARK football locks away 5kg of carbon dioxide equivalent, offsetting more than the amount of carbon emitted during the manufacturing process.
- By actively supporting women’s and girl’s charities, PARK is committed to providing access for all to the game we love.
- PARK has partnered with a US-based materials science company to develop the world’s first 100% plant-based football, which is currently being tested.
Sam explained that with the success of the women’s world cup, people have realised the power of women’s football, and football in general, to really create change amongst communities and within societies to raise a lot of these issues around equality that are really important.
Hopefully this enthusiasm will continue to carry over to PARK and the good work it is doing for people and planet.
PARK is currently out in the market raising funding in a seed round so that it can continue to leverage football for impact.