Two schoolgirls aged 7 and 13 have designed the official Moon United kit, in anticipation of the first-ever football match on the lunar surface.
England Lioness and Women’s Euro 2022 winner Beth England, of Tottenham Hotspur, has unveiled the first official Moon United kit, designed by two talented schoolgirls.
Erim Ali, 13, and Ishaani Nair, 7, were the winners of the competition hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which asked school children aged 4 to 13 to design home and away kits for the lunar footballers of the future.
The challenge was posed following a campaign in which engineers predicted humans could be playing a competitive game of football on the moon as early as 2035. The competition aimed to challenge outdated perceptions of engineering and showing children how they could combine a passion for football and space with a STEM-related career.
Being chosen from over 500 entries, Erim and Ishaani have now had their design dreams made a reality.
Their winning designs were brought to life and presented to them by Beth England and British engineer and aerodynamicist Sophie Harker.
Erim – the winner of the 8-13 category – is a Middlesex-born sports enthusiast, aspiring engineer and keen Tottenham Hotspur fan.
Her dream is to become an engineer, and she named astronaut Mae Jemison and education activist Malala Yousafzai as two of her idols. Erim’s belief that football should be for any gender, race or ethnicity led her to create a unisex kit with geometric, molecule-inspired shapes in a muted dragonfly colour pallete.
The judges were impressed by Erim’s “environmental considerations and the incorporation of an inventive, future-thinking sweat absorption and correction patch that would turn sweat into usable water”.
“As a Spurs fan it’s an honour to receive my winning shirt design from Beth England,” Erim said. “The competition really inspired me to think big, be creative and show how science can change how we work, live and play in the future. Maybe one day I will get to wear the shirt for a kickabout on the Moon as 2035 is not that far away.”
Based in Coventry, Ishaani was the winner of the 4-7 category for her design of a bold space-themed shirt, with striking colours and playful solar system illustrations.
According to Ishaani, the Earth and Sun featured are meant to give positivity to the game, and the shooting stars represent the speed and spirit of football. The judges loved “the colourful design and the smart idea to turn the planet Saturn into a football with rings as the central focus point”.
“I am so happy to be a winner and can’t wait to wear my shirt,” Ishaani said. “One day I hope I’ll get to play football on the Moon with my sister. I’d love that.”
Beth England, who presented the girls with their winning kits said “the girls did an amazing job”.
“I’m over the moon to be part of this campaign to involve youngsters in STEM. While science and engineering play a big part in the future, it’s critical to my life as a footballer today,” she added. “That’s everything from the design of football boots, training and nutrition, performance analysis data, through to the construction of the stadiums we play in. Without STEM, we wouldn’t have the beautiful game as we know it today.”
The competition was judged by a panel of IET expert judges, who included Eneni Bambara-Abban, Beth Clarke, Ama Frimpong, Sophie Harker and Brian David Johnson.
“Engineering affects everyone’s everyday lives, and showing how it plays a part in making our favourite hobbies or interests possible, is crucial in changing perception and inspiring consideration of STEM-based studies and careers,” said judge Sophie Harker, an aerospace engineer and analogue astronaut.
“There’s so much potential for engineering to help make things we only dream of, like playing football on the Moon, a reality, and with imaginative, inventive children like Erim and Ishaani I’m hopeful that the next generation will be the ones to make it happen.”
First launched in July, the Moon United campaign saw the IET assemble a panel of engineering and technology experts to predict the possibilities of Lunar Football. Its conclusions were laid out in the first-ever Lunar Football Rule Book.
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