Sneaker Freaker recently jetted into Sydney to attend the launch of the new Nike Football Shop. Located inside Rebel’s Mid City store, it features everything from your favourite National Team uniform to interactive NikeFootball.com stations, Four Four Two magazines, a gigantic flat screen as well as Nike Football boots, caps, game balls and all the Nike Pro equipment one would ever need for combat on the pitch. As part of the launch, a discussion featuring young gunners Robbie Kruse and Tommy Oar was hosted by Robbie Slater. Guests were rewarded with a Nike National Team jersey and team scarf, and 10 lucky attendees who were selected at random scored a custom Nike National Team jersey, complete with their own surname!

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ROBBIE KRUSE INTERVIEW

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Firstly, Robbie, let’s talk about this wicked new kit that the National Team will be wearing in South Africa. What were your thoughts when you first heard it would be made out of recycled plastic bottles?
It was very surprising! I’d never heard of anything like it before – I didn’t even know it was possible. It’s obviously great for the environment and although it took me a while to get used to the look of the strip, it has really grown on me. By the time the 2010 World Cup kicks off, not only will football fans warm to it, I believe they’ll really like it.

Have you had a chance to try it out?
I still haven’t had an opportunity to run in the new kit but I’ve had word from Tommy Oar that it has great ventilation and feels great to wear. As any footballer knows, any slight advantage a player can get in a World Cup environment not only benefits their performance, it helps their team win.

Looking at this new Nike Football uniform technology, do you believe, given the elite level you compete at, that this is actually an advantage to your game?
Definitely. If you look at the World Cup stage, all the little advantages that you can get over your competition can only help. When you factor in that it’s the 32 best teams in the world, you can understand why Nike would develop this kit for its teams. One imagines it’ll only benefit the players who are going to be put through the heat in South Africa. Once you reach an elite level you’re forever looking for every competitive advantage, and this new uniform looks like it can only help.

It must be a huge rush to put on the official team uniform?
It’s every kid’s dream, it certainly was mine, to not only be selected and put on the Socceroos jersey but any National sporting team identity. When you first hold up the official team jersey, especially if that’s your sport, you certainly get a few chills. I get excited just looking at the new Nike strip! All 23 players on board that plane to compete in South Africa will certainly be excited. Anytime you’re asked to wear the Green and Gold, regardless of the level you compete at, it’s a very special moment. The uniform looks great on so whoever is selected to wear it will be standing tall and proud.

How exciting is this for you, to be part of all this media hoopla?

It’s funny because you never think about it. Growing up I always wanted to play professional football and now that I’m getting paid for it, it is such a privilege and an honour and being at an event like this Nike Football shop is just icing on the cake. Nike’s new space is not only good for football fans but it’s good for the game, especially in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup. Nike is more than doing their part to help the growth of the game.

Does this new Nike Football Shop reflect where the local game is at right now?
I see all the other major sporting codes in Australia standing up and taking notice [of football] more and more. It’s well known that it’s the world’s game and other sports are starting to get a little scared of the potential of football in Australia, especially given the participation at the junior levels. All this interest in the game only helps the code and builds anticipation whenever something like this new Nike Football Shop opens.

Does being with a brand like Nike ever become a little overwhelming?
For me, being part of Nike is like being in a really big family, it’s an excellent atmosphere, they really look after me. Nike have been great, they’ve taken me under their wing and they look after me like a marquee player. They really do give their athletes every chance to excel through their new technologies.

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TOMMY OAR INTERVIEW

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For those who don’t know the Tommy Oar story, take us through a few of the key steps that has brought you here today.

I played on the Gold Coast growing up. From there, I was selected to attend the Queensland Academy of Sport. After that I signed my first professional contract with Brisbane Roar. I played well enough to make my Socceroos debut and before I knew it, here I am, at this new Nike Football Shop speaking to you.

After reading through all the press notes it dawned on me that this new Nike Football strip is much smarter than I am. Being the professional, what sort of advantages does this strip offer?
In brief, this new kit helps you maximise your potential. I know it has helped me to remain cooler! I’ve even noticed that I sweat less in it, which is always good and leads to another advantage, it’s real light and that helps a player like me, the less weight you carry, the quicker you move… oh, and Nike have even managed to somehow get eight recycled bottles into each shirt… I have no idea how that works (laughs). It’s all pretty amazing. The way modern sports are played nowadays, technologies are playing a larger part in the game and Nike is always releasing new ideas, helping athletes like me to perform their best.

When you’re on the pitch, has there ever been a moment when you’re conscious of the shirt you’re wearing because the weight and material aren’t allowing you to be as quick or focused as you need to be?
It’s funny because when you’re younger, you just want to play and you don’t notice what a difference something like weight can make. You don’t understand that sweating less helps you perform at your best for longer. I was a little ignorant to the all advances made by Nike Football at first but now I welcome all the technology. I’m happy to adopt any hi-tech shirts that Nike Football wants to introduce. Now that I know it’s going to help me, it doesn’t take long to trust the new shirt. I feel very fortunate to be exposed to such cool technology at such a young age.

You’re also a Nike Football boots guy.

Yeah, I’ve been playing in Nike Football boots for years, I’ve always played in them – love them. I do understand that football boots are a personal choice, everyone’s feet are different but for me, the Nike Football sole just suits my foot. The boots are light-weight and you can kick the ball harder, and with more accuracy, so it’s all good. Every year Nike manages to create a new boot, a new technology and new way for footballers to get better.

Fair call. Despite our geographical isolation, there appears to be an increasing number of opportunities for local football players. Did you ever imagine you’d see the world because of the way you kick a ball?
I never did… Now in Australia, it appears like every year there’s more and more opportunity compared to five years ago when I was still growing up. I never dreamt that I’d be afforded the life I have now. I feel very lucky, I don’t take it for granted and I see it as being the perfect time for young players.

The future appears very bright for Tommy Oar, tell us a little about your new five-year deal…
I’m very excited about my chance to go and play football in Holland, it’s a great country. I’ve spent plenty of time there over the past two years and I’m really looking forward to moving there but don’t worry, I’ll be missing a lot about Australia. I haven’t really set any goals for myself, I’m just eager to continue to work hard on the field, just because you never know what’s around the next corner. I’ve found that opportunities always present themselves but they’re hard to predict when and where, so you just have to keep at it.

I always saw selection to the Socceroos as more of a dream, never a goal. One shoots for the stars but you never know if you’ll ever make it. I was very surprised when I was picked to be a part of that first Socceroos squad. It never really crossed my mind, that it would be possible until that exact point. It soon sunk in though and I was like a child on Christmas morning.

Lastly, tell us about your experience being a part of the Nike family?
I’ve really enjoyed my time with Nike, they’ve been receptive and welcoming. I hope to remain with the brand for years to come. They’re the top of the market, both in product and as far as sporting talent goes, so I think they’re an excellent company to be with. I never thought about being sponsored, I never actively went after it but one day, like all the recent events in my life, it just kind of happened and seeing as Nike was already my favourite sporting brand, it was an arrangement I was more than happy to agree to!

For more on Nike’s National Team kit and the impressive technology that’s involved in the humble shirt, click here.