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.
Sebastian Hernando: The 14-year-old young Brisbane-based footballer has taken his skills around competing in Japan and Colombia and is now in the running to join the ranks of New Balance’s professional football athletes as part of the brand’s grassroots football initiative – Blackout Squad. Recovering from a cracked skull at a young age has given Sebastian the drive and determination to be the best at his game, and has fuelled his love for football even further.
Tell us about the team you play for.
The team I play for is currently Brisbane City FC and I have played at this club all my life. The team I'm with this year is really good as we all get a long with each other easily and we also have a lot of talented players. We are currently on top of the ladder and I hope that it stays that way.
How does it feel to get a New Balance Blackout Squad contract?
It is a great feeling to get a New Balance Blackout Squad contract and I believe this is just the beginning of such a big milestone for my football career and I think bigger things will happen with the New Balance Blackout Squad and myself in the future.
What do your teammates think about you being signed to NB BoS?
When I told a few of my teammates about wining a contract for NB BoS, they were very proud of me and they thought it was a well-deserved achievement which made me feel very pleasant and happy about myself.
What is your motivation when playing football?
My motivation when I'm playing football is a well-known quote: 'Never give up.' I know that if I have an attitude of not putting in all of my effort when playing football I'm eventually going to give up, so this quote definitely helps me, not only when I'm on the field but also when I'm off it.
Which New Balance professional player has a similar style to you, or do you aspire to be like?
The New Balance professional player I look up to is Aaron Ramsey because he's a fair player on and off the field. He also plays in the midfield, which is the position I play, making him a good mentor for my football career.
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: www.newbalance.com.au