The Women’s World Cup may be in the rear-view but the issue of head injuries remains top of mind for many soccer parents. And coaches of youth teams, apparently, are listening.
The Texas Association of Soccer Coaches (TASC) recently endorsed the Unequal Halo for its high school players. The protective headband first received visibility when it was spotted on USWNT member Ali Krieger during the Women’s World Cup.
TASC was not the only group to embrace protective technology; Unequal notes that the Fresno Unified School District was providing 170 headbands to its soccer athletes as well.
The following colleges are mandating the Halo in training: Oklahoma State, University of Memphis, Xavier and Columbus State. Some of the club teams that have a majority of their players in the Halo include Mississippi Rush, Space City FC (Houston, TX), TSC Hurricane(Tulsa, OK), TNSC (Tennessee). At the moment, the Halo is not yet required in games.
The equipment from Unequal is ASTM-certified and FIFA Law 4-approved and made with TriDur, Accelleron and other materials. According to materials provided by the company, TriDur is a patented, hermetically sealed aramid fabric used by the military and law enforcement that's five times stronger than steel with virtually unmatched ability to absorb and disperse high impact energy. Barely 10mm thin, the Halo contours to any players' head, looking just like a headband while offering serious protection.
Bonus round: it looks like any other headband or sweatband, meaning that the crucial teen- and tween-age demographic would deign to wear it. It is also available in fashion colors, and photos abound of Krieger dashing around the field at the World Cup with the headband visible. Parents will find the real bonus, however, to be the price: the headbands range from $29.95 to $39.95.
Another company, Full90, also makes soccer headgear that is being marketed to young athletes, and is similarly priced. A number of other players have entered the market as well, although at the moment, the Halo band has the widest acceptance among youth sports groups.
Whether headgear will become accepted among players nationwide is a big question. The process of awareness, and the demand for response from governing organizations, can be a process that moves, at best, at glacial speed. Of course, after all these years, ASTM finally approved a standard for women’s lacrosse headgear. It’s still not mandated (except in Florida) but proponents say the fact that a standard for head coverings now exists is a tremendous step forward.
And in the soccer world – in Texas – a victory dance is doing on.
"TASCO is excited to join Unequal in this partnership, as we believe coaches should place an absolute premium on the safety of their players," said TASCO VP Austin Guest. "It's a positive step in our continued efforts to be the leader among high school soccer organizations nationwide."