The Football

Charles Goodyear ball 1970 Adidas/Telstar World Cup ball Adidas range
Designer Various; Richard Lindon, Charles Goodyear, sports brands including Select, Adidas, Nike
Dates Unknown first ball, possibly 2nd/3rd Century B.C, 1851 first rubber bladder ball, 1855 first vulcanized rubber ball


A football is an air-filled spherical object used to play the game Football. It is usually a size 5 standard ball; the rules established in 1863 by the English Football Association state it should have a circumference of 68-70cm,weigh 410-450g and have a pressure of 60-110kPA. It is usually made of leather, plastic or synthetic material. Early balls were thought to be made using inflated animal bladders, usually pig, animal skin and even severed heads and skulls. The bladders were later covered with leather to keep their shape.In 1851 Richard Lindon and William Gilbert are believed to have made the first footballs using rubber bladders and in 1855 Charles Goodyear made the first vulcanized rubber football.

The design and colour of the ball has changed over time;older balls were usually brown or white for floodlit matches but Select created the first 32 panel black and white ball in Denmark during the 1950s. The design, consisting of 12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons, is the most recognized representation of football worldwide. This design became a worldwide icon in the 1970 World Cup with the Adidas Telstar official match ball. There are now novel designs such as the 14 panel Adidas and Teamgeist ball. The balls were black and white for maximum vision on monochrome TV sets but there are now different coloured balls, especially useful when playing on snow covered pitches or in bad weather or light.

The football is durable and fulfills it's function of being kicked around in a football game. They are a fairly inexpensive mass produced item that is used by both children and adults.

A Personal View

One of the main reasons I like the football so much is the connotations and memories associated with it. Such as the feeling of your team winning a game, the sound of the ball on the pitch with the crowd noise, the smell of new leather and grass, having a kick about in the park on a summer evening when I was young. I've always been a big football fan so the object has been in my life as far back as I can remember.

Aesthetically I like the spherical shape of the ball and it's a great object to physically kick around and throw. Football has become one of the most popular sports and I think the football fulfills it's fuction perfectly and deserves to be the worldwide icon that it is.


There are many other balls, related to the football, that are used in sport; rugby balls, American footballs, Gaelic footbals, netballs, basketballs, etc. These balls vary in shape and size, like the oval rugby ball, that are designed specifically for the games they are used in. The football is round and lightweight to roll smoothly along the floor and glide off heads, whereas a rugby ball is oval with a grip pattern so it is easier to throw and handle, and it can be positioned on a stand to be kicked over the posts.

Links - FIFA history of the game - History of the football - Encyclopedia entry

Author: Lauren Algeo Date: March 2007