The team at Providence’s G-Form LLC last year almost couldn’t believe what they were seeing: an in-match photo of Neymar, one of the world’s most popular soccer players and soon-to-be-star of the World Cup, rolling down his sock to reveal shin guards featuring the company’s bright yellow signature hardening gel cells. What made the image surprising was that G-Form, at the time known for bicycle knee pads and heavy-duty iPhone cases, didn’t market soccer equipment.
But Neymar and other players had discovered the attributes of the company’s gel, which instantaneously hardens when struck, and started wearing it on their own. Starting this spring, G-Form now produces shin guards specifically marketed for soccer, along with a wide array of body armor for football, skateboarding, extreme sports and stuntmen.
PBN: I watched many hours of World Cup matches this summer – how many of those players were wearing G-Form equipment?
CAFARO: We do not have a definite number, because the shin guards are worn under their socks. We know we made custom shin guards for a few of teams, specifically Croatia, where we incorporated the colors of their flag into the shin guards. We have developed relationships with 20 players’ unions, and they represent thousands of professional [soccer players].
PBN: Giants like Nike and Adidas pay hundreds of millions to outfit these teams. Don’t they insist on their own shin guards?
CAFARO: My understanding is when there is a kit sponsorship, that includes shirts, shorts and socks. Most guys at the professional level are allowed to choose their own shoes and after that everything else that is not seen, such as underwear and shin guards, is not a marketing opportunity, so they can choose.