New Balance Blackout Squad: James Woodland

New Balance Football officially launched its Blackout Squad competition in March, offering amateur players around the globe the chance to become part of a select group to trial New Balance football boots, just as the brand’s global professional player ambassadors do. The sign-up stage closed on April 6 and New Balance Australia can now announce its Australian squad.

New Balance Australia shortlisted 150 entrants who were asked to show why they deserved to be part of Blackout Squad through video. From there, the group was narrowed down to 60 entrants who will be awarded the New Balance football boots and kits. New Balance will then select the final 11 winners to represent Australia’s own Blackout Squad.  

Inspired by the practice of pro-footballers trialling blacked out boots when testing new products, competition winners will be the first members of public in the world to get their hands on the highly sought-after New Balance boots alongside an exclusive Blackout Squad apparel package, worth more than $4,000.

We talk to a few of the Australian players in Team NB’s Blackout Squad.

James Woodland: The 17-year-old Frankston Pines Soccer Club senior's mentor is his grandfather, former Chelsea player and VIC local, Jim Smart, who has coached, trained and mentored him from a young age. 

Tell us about the team you play for.
I currently play for the Frankston Pines reserve side in the Victorian State League 1, and am fortunate enough to have some great teammates and also a great coach. Additionally I play for my school's first side at The Peninsula School. At the Pines I’m also looking to try and make the push up into the senior side in the near future. 

How does it feel to get a New Balance Blackout Squad contract?
It feels really exciting to be recognised for the time and effort I’ve put into my sport over the years. Additionally, it’s great to be involved with such a high profile brand such as New Balance, who have a very promising future in the footballing market.

What do your teammates think about you being signed to NB BoS?
They really think it’s a very exciting prospect to be involved with such a leading sporting brand.  

What is your motivation when playing football?
The thrill of competition motivates me to play football. It’s all about trying to outplay your opponents and, as a defender, make it difficult for opposing attackers. Getting forward on the park when playing full-back is also very thrilling as often the winger you’re playing against won’t appreciate trying to track you as you make runs into dangerous positions.  

Which New Balance professional player has a similar style to you, or do you aspire to be like?
New Balance footballer Vincent Kompany’s undeniable strength and vision in defence is certainly to be admired, which is also coupled with his dominant supporting abilities in attack and great passing ability. As a defender, I definitely admire Kompany’s qualities and aspire to play football with the same defensive presence as him.

New Balance’s squad of professional players are backing the plan, encouraging amateur players around the world to enter. Australia superstar, Shanghai Shenhua attacker Tim Cahill, said: "I’ll never forget where I got my start in football and those that challenged and believed in me, helping me take my game to the next level.

“I love the concept of the New Balance Blackout Squad, it's an initiative like this that can help provide the inspiration and drive for the future stars of football, giving them the professional experience and opportunity to connect with other like-minded grassroots players globally. The best way to improve yourself is by giving your all in training and games and NB will make sure that the winners have all the right gear to make it happen. I’m excited to watch this group of rising stars and welcome them to team New Balance.”

To learn more on the global Blackout Squad, go to: