One of the beautiful aspects of the sport of soccer is that you only need a ball to play, but even that can be difficult to attain in impoverished countries. And even if a ball is acquired, the ball needs to be kept inflated and will eventually deteriorate, especially when used on a rough surface.
To make the sport more accessible to children in impoverished communities who may not be able to buy and maintain a traditional ball, Japanese studio Nendo has developed a soccer ball that does not need to be inflated and can instead be assembled by hand from 54 interlocking plastic modules. The skeletal sphere shape of the ball is created by a set of 30 long white strips that are clipped together to form 12 pinwheels shapes, with each of these pinwheels being reinforced by adding a black frame to its center and filling it with a matching pentagonal plate.
According to Nendo, the ball is structured so that it stays intact if an individual piece falls off. And even if a piece does break off, the ball’s piecemeal construction allows broken parts to easily be replaced, extending the lifespan of the ball. The DIY ball also comes with picturebook-style instructions that are designed to be understood by children across different cultures and language boundaries.
For those of us at the Optimist Daily, Nendo’s build-your-own soccerball is yet another great example of how quality design can overcome barriers and improve accessibility for certain products in regions that lack the necessary resources.